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Fifa silence keeps Zim in suspense

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ZIMBABWE has been kept in suspense over the future of football in the country after world governing body Fifa has taken its time to react in the wake of the suspension of the country’s football federation by a local supervisory body.

ENOCK MUCHINJO

Last week, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), which oversees the governance of all sports in the country, sensationally suspended the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board over a litany of charges that range from boardroom misdemeanours such as financial mismanagement and improper conduct to personal ethics issues like sexual harassment.

The silence of Fifa, which normally has a clear zero-tolerance stance against external interference in the activities of its member federations, has added to the anxiety of a cross-section of Zimbabwean football fans, who fear that the country could be banned from international football and, as a result, risks being thrown out of January’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon.

Apart from the national team’s isolation in such circumstances, a banned country loses all other privileges of Fifa membership across all levels of the game.  Fifa, in brief responses to media queries over the past week, say they are examining the development in Zimbabwe and will issue a statement at an appropriate time. Interesting times are certainly ahead for football in Zimbabwe, given also how the suspended Zifa leadership has shown firm defiance against their ban.

 This week, the suspended Zifa president Felton Kamambo – alongside chief executive Joseph Mamutse – who has a prior suspension hanging over his head before the latest move, flew out to Egypt to attend a General Assembly meeting of the Confederation on African Football (Caf).

This could attract further sanctions against the pair, particularly Kamambo, who is going through a separate bribery trial in the courts stemming from the elections that saw him dislodge the seemingly invincible Phillip Chiyangwa at the ballot in December 2018.

The SRC, meanwhile, has appeared unfazed over the possible repercussions of its actions.  Consultation to appoint an interim committee to run the affairs of Zifa, said the SRC, is already underway and it includes Fifa, Caf and other stakeholders.

 In a statement released to the media, the SRC wrote: “There must be integrity in the process. These discussions are ongoing, and they are encouraging. There is engagement and it is positive. We all want to do what is best for football.”

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