BAD NEWS: Zimbabwe banned from international football as FIFA wields axe

Felton Kamambo

FIFA finally acted on their threats yesterday when they suspended Zimbabwe and demanded the reinstatement of the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board for the suspension to be lifted.

The world football governing body also suspended Kenya after the East African country kicked out the leadership of their national game.

FIFA have set conditions for Zimbabwe’s reinstatement, which includes the reconstitution of the suspended board, and their chief executive Joseph Mamutse.

They also want the Sports and Recreation Commission to withdraw the court case against the ZIFA leadership, who are facing fraud charges at the magistrates court, for illegally using ZIFA letterheads after they were suspended.

The SRC last night said they were likely to provide a comprehensive reaction, to the latest developments, today.

Kamambo and his board, which include Philemon Machana, Bryton Malandule and Stanley Chapeta, were suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission, on November 16, last year.

The other suspended board members — Farai Jere, Sugar Chagonda and Barbra Chikosi — accepted their suspension by the SRC, awaiting FIFA directives.

However, Kamambo, Machana, Malandule and Chapeta have been fighting the suspension and, on one occasion, appeared to be persuading FIFA to suspend Zimbabwe.

The suspension means no representative Zimbabwean team can feature in international football, even in the CAF inter-club tournaments, while FIFA will also withhold all funding to this country.

The country has been facing serious challenges, under the leadership of Kamambo and his board, who were accused by the SRC of questionable administration of the national game.

They were also accused of poorly handling serious allegations of sexual harassment of female referees by some senior officials with the ZIFA establishment.

The SRC also claimed there have been cases of misappropriation of funds at ZIFA and demanded that a forensic audit be conducted at the association.

The move did not go down well with FIFA, who interpreted it as interference, in the running of local football, by a third party.

FIFA gave the SRC until January 3, to reinstate the suspended ZIFA board, but a common ground could not be found, even though engagements had continued.

“Consequently, and in accordance with Article 13 of the FIFA Statutes, ZIFA loses all its membership rights as of 24 February 2022 until further notice,” FIFA secretary-general, Fatma Samoura, said in a statement.

“ZIFA representatives and club teams are, therefore, no longer entitled to take part in international competitions until the suspension is lifted.

“This also means that neither ZIFA, nor any of its members or officials, may benefit from any development programmes, courses or training from FIFA and/or CAF.

“Finally, notwithstanding this suspension imposed on ZIFA, and in line with FIFA zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, sexual abuse and any other unethical conduct.

“FIFA reiterates its commitment to cooperating with any ongoing investigations regarding alleged sexual harassment and bribery by ZIFA officials.

“FIFA will, therefore, remain at the disposal of the national authorities and plaintiffs with respect to the above during the suspension period.” The Zimbabwe situation has proved complex for the authorities at the FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

The suspended ZIFA board, whose president Kamambo has a pending case of vote-buying at the magistrates court, have come short in many instances and have fought hard to avoid an inquiry into how they have been running the association since they got in office, in December 2018.

FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, also confirmed the suspensions they slapped on Zimbabwe and Kenya.

“We had to suspend two of our members; Kenya and Zimbabwe, both for government interference in the activities of football associations.

“The associations are suspended with immediate effect.

“They know what needs to be done for them to be readmitted or for their suspensions to be lifted,” Infantino said.

— Herald

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