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SRC, Zifa blame game continues

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BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has reacted angrily to accusations that it was frustrating efforts towards the return of Premiership football. Instead, it has blamed Zifa for not heeding the call to re-apply to the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation ministry.

The sports regulatory body last month called for all sport associations wishing to undertake activities during the coronavirus-induced lockdown to apply for approval.

Zifa had previously applied for the resumption of football on December 21 last year, but SRC argued that the application was rendered invalid by the Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021, which was triggered by a surge in coronavirus cases.

As a result, SRC on January 2 this year called upon sports associations wishing to resume activities under the prevailing conditions to resubmit applications.

Zifa did not apply despite concerns from football stakeholders longing for the return of the game, which has been on hold since March last year.

The association is understood to have only applied for the authorisation of the Warriors’ participation in international matches.

“After the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021, the Sports and Recreation Commission issued a statement on January 2, 2021 advising all national sport associations on the suspension of all sport activity. SRC called upon all national sport associations wishing to undertake activities during the lockdown period to re-apply for approval by the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation,” explained Sebastian Garikai, the SRC acting director-general.

“It is important to note that Zifa only re-applied today (February 9, 2021), at around 1100hrs. SRC will immediately activate the approval process which all associations have been advised of. As a point of clarity, the last application with regard to possible resumption of football by Zifa to SRC was on December 21, 2020 wherein Zifa submitted an application without the necessary protocols as is required. This application was subsequently affected by Statutory Instrument 10 of 2021, which led to the suspension and the need for re-application.”

He added that the safe resumption of any sporting activity in the country was guided by the prevailing COVID-19 regulations and policies enacted by government to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic.

The SRC boss also denied reports that the alleged bad blood between Zifa and the SRC was impeding the return of football activities.

“The SRC is a regulatory authority whose ethos are founded on professionalism and transparency. The SRC fosters the equitable treatment of all its national sport associations regardless.  As you might be aware, there is a COVID-19 special board committee that assesses applications for the safe resumption of sports at first instance. Recommendations are then made to the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation who in consultation with other relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Health and Child Care, will make the necessary decisions on the matter,” Garikai said.

“SRC had not received any re-applications by Zifa for the safe resumption of football until today; how then do we as SRC frustrate a process that had not been initiated at first instance?” he queried.

According to the application submitted by Zifa this week, the association wants football to return next month.

“What I can only say is that we all applied for the resumption of football and we have reapplied,” said Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela.

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