In 2015, a major criminal investigation rocked the football world, quickly leading to high-profile arrests or resignations at Fifa.
The unprecedented anti-corruption investigation exposed deep-seated irregularities that had long undermined the Beautiful Game.
Six years later, the sport is yet to recover from those problems, and it might take several more years before it fully regains public trust.
Now, Rwandan football, and local sports in general, have had their own fair share of corruption scandals and suspicions.
From allegations of monetary corruption such as match-fixing to sexual corruption involving women athletes, the sector has struggled to ensure transparency, honesty and professionalism.
Talk of corruption and other irregularities in different domestic sports federations has been around for a while, eroding the confidence of many fans in local sport.
Of late, the situation has attracted the attention of Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), which has now said it’s launching an extensive probe into the corruption allegations.
The development seems to have been triggered by recent match-fixing allegations involving AS Muhanga, which have since resulted in the arrest of their goalkeeper, Emile Mbarushimana. The team was recently relegated from the top flight league and the goalkeeper has since admitted to bribery charges.
While corruption-related allegations have particularly dogged Rwanda’s football, often soiling the image and integrity of especially the top national competitions, several other sports disciplines have not been immune either.
For example, in 2019, allegations of sexual corruption rocked the country’s cycling community, with the then executive committee resigning in the wake of the accusations.
Just like in every other sector, any form of corruption in sport is a cancer that does not only stifle the growth of the industry and individual talents but it undermines the core principles of fair competition, equal opportunity and professionalism.
Yet, there has been a tendency to normalise these criminal activities.
It is imperative that Rwandan sport is protected against all forms of criminal machinations and institutionalised dishonesty, as well the tendency to normalise corruption.
Indeed, we welcome RIB’s intention to embark on an anti-corruption purge in the sports sector and hope it will help start a new chapter for this vitally important industry.