Zimbabwe’s participation in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations is in danger after the board of its football association (Zifa) was suspended by the country’s government-appointed Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) with immediate effect.
Football’s world governing body Fifa disapproves of governmental interference in the running of member associations and has banned countries from all forms of football as a result in the past.
“This decision has been considered following several incidents of gross incompetence on the part of Zifa contrary to the national interest,” said SRC chair Gerald Mlotshwa.
The reasons given for the ban include alleged sexual harassment of female referees by technical staff and allegations of fraud.
The Felton Kamambo-led Zifa board is yet to respond to the suspension, which comes two days after the men’s national team ended their 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a 1-1 home draw against Ethiopia.
Zimbabwe finished bottom of Group G, which also included Ghana and South Africa, with two points from six games.
The SRC, a statutory body mandated to regulate and develop sport and recreation in Zimbabwe, also detailed other reasons for the suspension including alleged mismanagement and lack of accountability in the use of public funds.
“We are prepared in many respects for whatever might happen,” Mlotshwa added.
“If Fifa decides to ban Zimbabwean football we are prepared for that. If it does happen we look at it being a short-term measure.
“Zimbabwean football needs this opportunity just to fix itself – if we are out of international football for a year, two years, that’s fine. If we are suspended from Afcon next year we are prepared for that, that is fine, we need to deal with football.”
The SRC took similar action in 2019 with Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC), setting up an interim leadership and receiving a three-month suspension from the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The ICC readmitted ZC after the reinstatement of the board.
SRC board member Karen Mutasa is hoping for a more positive outcome this time.
“We would hope that Fifa would want to see the evidence that’s presented to them and that they would work with us to build football in Zimbabwe, and even to assist with appointing an interim committee,” she said.