By Kevin Mapasure
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) says it is hoping to get Fifa’s support after dissolving the Zifa board yesterday for alleged incompetence.
Following the dissolution of the Zifa board, there was public outcry over a possible ban by Fifa which would consequently see the Warriors losing their place at the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Cameroon in January.
While acknowledging that there was a great risk of sanctions, SRC is praying for Fifa’s support.
The SRC also said it was ready to face any consequences if Fifa were to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe over government interference in football matters.
SRC chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa told journalists that losing the Afcon slot could be one of the sacrifices needed as the commission cleans up local football.
He said SRC was looking at putting in place structures that would bar Felton Kamambo and his Zifa team from being voted back into office.
SRC, a government arm, is hoping to complete its clean-up and facilitation of holding of elections within the next two years.
Fifa sanctions would see the world governing body closing financial tapes as well as ban national teams from taking part in football events on the international scene.
But SRC insisted that it did its homework before coming up with such a drastic decision.
“Insofar as Zifa is concerned, we have done the necessary consultations. We are prepared for whatever might happen. If Fifa decides to ban Zimbabwean football, we are prepared. We have planned for that. If that happens we look at it as being a short-term measure. I think Zimbabwean football needs this space and this opportunity to fix itself. If that takes us a year, if it takes us two years and we are out of the international football scene, that is fine, everyone accepts that. If we are suspended from Afcon next year, that is okay. Believe me, we are prepared for that,” Mlotshwa said in response to questions from journalists.
SRC board member Karen Mutasa reinforced Mlotshwa’s point, saying the SRC was hoping for a favourable response from Fifa.
“We anticipate that it is possible that we will be banned, but we hope they (Fifa) will co-operate with us to build the game,” Mutasa said. “Who knows they (Fifa) might actually be supportive and we pray and we hope for that.”
SRC said it had suspended the Zifa board over, among others, misappropriation of funds, failure to deal with issues of sexual harassment raised against some of the top officials, failure to address gender imbalances in the game and lack of a developmental plan for the game.
“SRC hereby informs the public that upon extensive consultations and further deliberations on matters relating to the governance and management of football in Zimbabwe, the SRC board has with immediate effect suspended the Zifa board in accordance with the SRC Act,” part of the SRC statement read. “This decision has been considered following several incidents of gross incompetence on the part of Zifa, such conduct and/or omissions being contrary to the national interest, as provided for in terms of section 30(i)(c) of the SRC Act.
“For purposes of clarity, section 30 of the SRC Act states that: (1) Where the board considers that any registered national association (c) has conducted itself in a manner which is contrary to national interest; the board may, after affording the association concerned an opportunity of making representations in the matter, do either or both of the following: (i) suspend all or (ii) any of its officers.”
Mlotshwa said the commission already had a list of individuals that it recommended to Youth, Sport, Art and Recreation minister Kirsty Coventry for the interim committee to run the affairs of Zifa until a new board is elected. He added that the commission considered the plight of the players who worked hard to play at the Afcon showcase, but concluded that it could not delay the suspension.
“I think let us look at it this way, the decision made by the board is in the national interest. I understand that there is the individual aspect. But if we were to apply that criterion, we would never have the right time. Our collective decision was to say let us bite the bullet, let us deal with this once and for all. We needed to act, never mind the individual disappointments, that is the sacrifice that people have to make.”
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