By Kevin Mapasure
SPORTS and Recreation Commission (SRC) chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa has hit out at Fifa for its “reluctance” to deal with corruption at Zifa. He also accused the world’s soccer-governing body of protecting “sexual predators” and “fraudsters” by banning Zimbabwe from participating in international football matters.
He demanded that Fifa make compromises in dealing with the issues raised by SRC to allow Zifa to return to the Fifa family.
Zifa was suspended by the world football governing body on Thursday over third party interference following SRC’s dissolution of the association’s executive committee (Exco) led by Felton Kamambo on November 26 last year.
Following the announcement of the ban on Zimbabwe, yesterday the SRC released a statement saying that Zifa board and its general secretary Joseph Mamutse will remain suspended until Fifa deals with issues that were raised against the Exco members.
Fifa has demanded that the board be reinstated for it to lift Zimbabwe’s suspension, but the SRC says it will not budge.
“Pending any such compromise, the Zifa executive committee and the general secretary shall remain suspended. The various matters pending before the courts in Zimbabwe shall continue as shall the criminal proceedings and all other actions focused on restructuring football in our country,” Mlotshwa said in a statement yesterday.
“Domestic football will continue in Zimbabwe. It will be supported fully by the SRC as has been the demonstrable case thus far. Zifa will return to the Fifa family when it is in a condition fit to do so.”
Mlotshwa noted that Fifa was not willing to deal with issues that Zifa had raised, particularly the alleged misappropriation of funds and sexual abuse of female referees.
“… it appears that Fifa is constrained by the provisions of its own statutes to protect certain of the undoubted sexual predators, fraudsters and corrupt administrators at the helm of football administration in Zimbabwe. All this in the name of shielding Zifa from, to quote Fifa in its letter ‘… undue interference from a third party’.
“It is a fact that some of these administrators are facing, inter alia, charges of sexual harassment, bribery, fraud and general corruption before Zimbabwe’s courts. Fifa has the full details of these matters.
“It is clear that Fifa has interpreted these very serious charges as ‘mere allegations’, notwithstanding its ‘…zero tolerance policy towards corruption, sexual abuse and any other unethical conduct’”.
He said that the SRC acts within the laws of the country, and the Fifa statutes do not supercede the country’s laws.
“We, at the SRC, act decisively within the confines of the laws of Zimbabwe, in particular the SRC Act as well as the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
“Fifa statutes are not a part of the laws of Zimbabwe. Conversely, Zifa, and indeed all other national sports associations in the country, are subject to the laws of Zimbabwe. It is for this reason that they, and their respective constitutions, are registered with the SRC.”
On Thursday, Fifa general-secretary Fatma Samoura wrote to Mamutse informing him of the suspension, which will only be lifted after the board is reinstated and regains full control of football activities in the country.
Fifa considered the events that led to the drastic decision, where the SRC first sought permission to establish a normalisation committee in 2019, which was turned down by the world governing body.
The letter by Fifa also refers to Mamutse’s suspension in November 2020, which again the world football mother body was not in support of.
Fifa noted in its letter that following the suspension of the Zifa board, it tried to find solutions that would not hurt the game, but Mlotshwa declined to participate in a crucial meeting that would have involved Zifa and Fifa.
The prevention of Kamambo from travelling to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) 2021 finals in Cameroon last month also irked Fifa and after considering that and other circumstances, the Zurich-headquartered organisation decided to ban Zimbabwe.
Kamambo was barred from travelling to Cameroon, where he had been invited to watch the final match between Senegal and Egypt.
“The Fifa council considered that the aforementioned circumstances were serious and constituted a clear case of undue interference by a third party. Therefore, on the basis of article 14 paragraphs (1) and 3 of the Fifa statutes — as well as article 16 paragraph 1, under which the Fifa council may, without a vote of the congress, temporarily suspend with immediate effect a member association that seriously violates its obligations — the Fifa council decided to suspend Zifa with immediate effect due to flagrant violations of the Fifa statutes,” Samoura wrote to Mamutse.
“Furthermore, and without prejudice to the ongoing investigations into the allegations of sexual harassment and bribery, the Fifa council decided that the lifting of the suspension be subject to the following conditions:
- The repeal of the SRC decision of November 26, 2020 suspending the Zifa general-secretary,
- The repeal of the SRC decision of November 16, 2021 suspending the Zifa board,
- The repeal of the SRC decision of December 17, 2021 setting up the restructuring committee,
- Fifa’s receipt of confirmation from Zifa and its management, led by Kamambo and Mamutse that Zifa and its premises are once more under their full and unconditional control, and
- The withdrawal of the SRC’s legal complaint against the Zifa president, three board members and the general-secretary regarding alleged misuse of the Zifa letterheads.”
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