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SRC goes after Zifa

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THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and Zifa fight is set to escalate after the former promised to get rid of “bad apples” from the football mother body’s executive committee, following the suspension of association general-secretary Joseph Mamutse.

BY Kevin Mapasure

SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa hinted that the supreme sports body was prepared to suffer the consequences of Fifa sanctions, that may accrue from the current clean-up exercise in football administration.

Zimbabwe risks being suspended if Fifa deemed the SRC actions as interference.

While there is a collective public hiss at the mention of such consequences, which would see the national teams being banned from participating in international tournaments as well as the closing of financial tapes from the world governing body, the SRC had said it would not be deterred by threats of sanctions.

The SRC board members and secretariat yesterday had a three-hour engagement with members of the media in Harare where they made it clear that the threat of sanctions would not stop them from doing what they felt was right.

Following the suspension of Mamutse by the SRC over a litany of allegations, among them authorisation of the national teams’ unsanctioned trips to South Africa for the Cosafa tournament, the two parties have been at each other’s throat and more heads may roll from the football mother body.

“There has always been that engagement, I talk regularly with Zifa president Kamambo (Felton), I talk to one or two other board members. It is a relationship that we are nurturing and the actions we are taking should not be interpreted as us severing that relationship. It is just that when we see certain errant individuals doing certain things and they are asked to account for their actions, they just keep quiet as if to say you cannot touch us,” Mlotshwa told NewsDay Sport.

“We have identified the problems within Zifa and the way we are approaching it is strategic. We are alive to the fact that not everyone at Zifa is a rotten apple. When I speak to Kamambo, he is a very sincere about what he wants to do. But look you have a president and then other persons, and ask to what extent are they accountable to him and to what extent do they share his vision, is it national interest or individual interests. We have identified who some of these people are, you will see in the coming days we will start to weed out these people and pluck them from Zifa without destablising the organisation.”

He said they tried to solve Zifa’s problems in private, but in some cases the football body was not forthcoming until SRC decided to intervene.

“The suspension of the secretary-general was not something that happened overnight. Let us go back to the last Afcon finals, let’s go back to Zifa coming to government with a begging bowl saying help us we can’t fly out to Cairo. So the SRC took the responsibility to fundraise for Zifa. Money was raised, the team travels and then the next thing we hear is that Zifa officials and councillors have chartered an aeroplane to go to Cairo, but we thought these people were broke. People who were saying they don’t have money, suddenly hire an aeroplane. Which source of funds we don’t know. We wrote to Zifa asking about the funds and the people who travelled and they didn’t respond. We have been trying to resolve all those things, we have been engaging Zifa.”

Mlotshwa admitted that there could be a public outcry if Zimbabwe were to be suspended, but he said there needed to be a collective engagement to weigh the corrective actions vis-a-vis the possible gains.

“We have to be sensitive to public concerns. That is why we are saying the media should come in and educate the public. If we are suspended what are the repercussions. With cricket, when we were suspended, we all saw the effect everything came to a standstill. A permanent ban would have meant we would lose full membership and we would never have got Test status back. So that is what we looked at and we made agreements with ZC (Zimbabwe Cricket) and we have been working well. Now juxtapose that with football and this where we should question that if we are to be suspended by Fifa, what does it mean? A suspension does not mean that Zifa will never compete at the world stage, a suspension will always be temporary. Will football in this country collapse? Will Highlanders, Dynamos and FC Platinum lose any funding from Fifa. Clubs don’t rely on Zifa to pay their players. Football can actually carry on.

We must look and say what trade-off do we want. Do we want to bear the pain for one year while we fix football once and for all? That is the public debate that we are trying to encourage. How much does Zifa get, maybe $1,2 to $1,5, can’t we source that from elsewhere. There is no sponsorship in football at the moment? Sponsors run away because of governance issues.”

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