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MBABANE – He is seething! Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Harries ‘Madze’ Bulunga has minced no words in stating that those found to be involved in the alleged national Under 17 age-cheating scandal will be dealt with accordingly.

This comes after it was reported that the local Under 17 squad has been disqualified from the ongoing COSAFA Youth Championships being hosted in South Africa due to over-age claims. As a result, the local squad is already back in the country.

Bulunga stated that those responsible will be brought to book as per existing sporting policies. Eswatini together with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Comoros Islands were banned from the tournament after failing the age eligibility test.


huge embarrassment

The minister did not hide his disappointment in the disqualification of the local squad and apologised to the nation for the huge embarrassment that this matter has brought to the country. 

“The ministry, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, wishes to make it clear that it strongly condemns any form of cheating in sport and will stop at nothing to ensure that all who are involved in such and cheating in its entirety are removed from our sport,” read part of the statement.

Bulunga also confirmed that the Eswatini Football Association (EFA) bigwigs were summoned to an urgent meeting yesterday morning to answer on this matter.

“It was at this meeting that the EFA informed us of their intention to appeal this verdict with the Confederation of African Football (CAF).  The ministry has therefore taken a decision that it will wait for the finalisation of this appeal before taking any further action,” the minister added.

He was quick to warn though that in the event CAF upholds the standing decision (expelling Eswatini), the ministry, as per policy, will take the EFA to the Eswatini Sport and Recreation Council (ESRC) Tribunal for bringing sport into disrepute. 

“This is an existing and laid down structure within sport mandated to deal with such issues as and when they happen.  While this process is ongoing, the ministry has further instructed the EFA to strengthen programmes meant to address conformity to age-eligibility in local football,” the former Sihlangu coach further stated. 

 “The ministry further appeals for patience from the nation as the national Under 17 matter is handled within the relevant structures. The ministry will swiftly ensure that, if the guilty verdict is upheld, those responsible are brought to book as per existing sporting policies,” he said.

Bulunga said his ministry would not allow even the slightest form of cheating in sport and any sign of this will be dealt with in the most decisive of manners to ensure that such cancerous threats to sport are immediately eliminated.

Meanwhile, EFA Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe said the association would issue a statement on this issue upon receiving proper reports from the travelling Under 17 delegation. He said for now, they would not want to pre-empt anything or even confirm that they will appeal the decision with CAF.

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