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Zuerich, 26.6.2010. Sport, Fussball, FIFA. Home of FIFA, Hauptsitz der FIFA © foto-net / Kurt Schorrer

Sports

Lobby for Fifa to lift Zim ban

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FIFA have been lobbied to reconsider the suspension of Zimbabwe following the world football governing body’s ban on a top referees’ boss from the country who was found guilty of sexual harassment in a landmark ruling that has stirred an ethical dilemma over the African nation’s continued sanction.

ENOCK MUCHINJO

Obert Zhoya resigned in April as secretary-general of the referees’ committee of Zifa, Zimbabwe’s football federation, amidst controversy over unwanted sexual advances towards three subordinate female match officials.

Zimbabwe was thrown out of international football in March after the government’s Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) fired the Zifa board, an act of intervention universally deemed third-party interference by Fifa, who rigidly outlaw such drastic measures in member nations.

Although Zhoya was not a member of the Zifa board, his acts of sexual misconduct were heavily linked to the dismissed federation officials in a scandal that rocked the game in the country. Topping the grounds for the sacking of the Zifa board – alongside rampant corruption – was failure to investigate reported complaints of sexual abuse by Zhoya and his superior on the referees’ body, Bryton Malandule.

Zhoya was this week slapped with a five-year ban following investigations by Fifa’s independent ethics committee. On top of the ban, Zhoya was fined US$20 300 in a verdict that, according to the three female referees’ lawyer Evelyn Shumba, vindicates the SRC.

“All this points the decision made by Fifa to ban Mr Zhoya due to his treatment of the female refs,” Shumba told The NewsHawks on Thursday.

“It becomes important for Fifa to reconsider lifting the ban on Zimbabwe. It means the SRC was justified in the suspension of the Zifa board for the same reasons Fifa banned Mr Zhoya. Therefore it can only be construed that Fifa was misinformed of SRC reasons to suspend the Zifa board. Now that it has been made clear that both Fifa and SRC are on the same page, the ban must be removed immediately.”

A full appeal letter is expected to be filed to Fifa in the new week, through the Zurich-based organisation’s ethics committee.

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