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Banned referee makes defensive account of his case. “I was witch hunted”

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Denis Musanje

On Friday, last week the FUFA Ethics and Disciplinary committee banned referee Deogracious Opio for 10 years from taking part in any football related activities over match fixing.

The Federation stated that Opio was guilty of violation of Article 41 (Manipulation of football matches or competitions or statistics).

According to Opio when he went to watch the game between Ndejje and Northern Gateway in Bombo he found players warming up and the referees were not there so he decided to go to the dressing rooms to check and find out why they were still in the dressing rooms.

“FUFA sent me a letter detailing their investigation that was taking place in the previous three months that I was suspended.”

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“Among the things they wrote was mainly the issue of the game between Ndejje University and Northern Gateway which was played at Bombo Military Barracks.”

“That day I was in Kampala checking certain things regarding my transcript at Kyambogo University. I chose to leave Kampala and then stopover at Bombo to watch that game because Northern Gateway comes from where I stay in Lira.”

“It was in my plans to go and sleep in Luweero and comeback to Ndejje the
following day, so I branched over to watch the game and even reached the stadium a bit late. When I reached the field I saw players warming up and the referees were not there. As a referee of my caliber I know at such a time is when players should be preparing to go back to the dressing room but there was no sign of referees being there and they had not even warmed up.”

Opio stated before adding,

“So I just took it upon myself that let me check the dressing room and see who is there and then find out why they are still in the dressing room just for just.

“I went and found only one Referee that I know and that’s Tina the rest are referees that I don’t know. So I greeted them and asked them the time they are going to warm up and they told me they are just going to start warm up. I didn’t even take long in the dressing room and all of us left together. They went for warm up and personally found a group of soldiers and sat with them to watch the game.”

Opio was surprised that FUFA based on lie from another Tina Nakibombo (referee) as evidence.

“I was surprised with this letter from FUFA that in their investigations they discovered that Tina reported that I gave her money before the game and that was said by Tina herself. So I was wondering by that I had never talked to Tina and the only time we could meet is when we go for fitness test in Makerere or at FUFA house for medical test. Any other thing beyond that I had never met Tina and actually even before that time I had never talked to her. I didn’t even have her number.”

Opio believes Tina might have been promised something big to make such a lie against him

“I never pulled Tina outside the dressing room and I never gave her any money, so I was surprised that Tina can open her mouth and say that. I think someone could have pushed Tina to say such a lie because I don’t think Tina can make such a lie of that nature without being pushed or motivated. Somebody might have promised her something big because that kind of a lie is not a cheap lie.”

“So, if FUFA have evidence let them come up with it other than using Tina’s lie. I even asked FUFA to ask Tina if I had ever talked to her months before the game and weeks after the game. Tina does not have any evidence, not even a WhatsApp call I have never talked to Tina.” Opio told Swift Sports Uganda

Meanwhile, FUFA also banned players Franco Oringa, Maganda Saleh, Godfrey Lwesibawa, Andrew Waiswa and Mahad Yaya for five years.

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