BY HENRY MHARA
MIDFIELDER Marshall Munetsi has became the first high-profile footballer in the country to speak out against the recently-imposed Fifa ban, imploring fighting administrators to find common ground for the good of the local game.
The Warriors star expressed fears that with the ban, Zimbabwe is set to lose a generation of talented footballers due to the international isolation.
Zimbabwe was last week banned by Fifa from all international football activities for government interference after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) refused to reinstate the suspended Zifa board.
Writing on microblogging site Twitter yesterday, the France-based player said the country stood to lose a lot, more than what the SRC is purporting to fix.
“The ban on our national teams, from international football and our local teams from international cup competitions, is quite sad. Football has since evolved into a sport that is more than just a sport. Many livelihoods now depend on it. It’s a source of hope during tough times,” Munetsi posted.
“Football is a uniting table, where people with differences can sit together and feast at the spectacle we call the beautiful game. It has been two years without any meaningful development on the local football scene due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our beautiful nation gets struck by a ban on international football. Our football stands to lose quite a lot for many years as a result. I pray the parties involved can get to a resolution quickly so that we can get back to playing international football soon. And the decisions made will in fact pave a way for better running of our football.”
Last Thursday, Fifa banned Zimbabwe from the international arena after the SRC refused to reinstate the Felton Kamambo led executive board.
The Zifa board was dissolved by the SRC on November 16 last year over charges that include alleged misappropriation of public funds as well as sweeping under the carpet sexual abuse and match-fixing charges.
Kamambo has refuted the allegations, and Fifa has refused to endorse his suspension due to lack of evidence.
The world football governing body has said the ban will only be lifted when Kamambo’s board is reinstated and regains full control of football activities in the country.
SRC is, however, adamant and has shut doors on any dialogue with Kamambo.
The country’s sports regulator has already set up a Zifa restructuring committee ostensibly to “review the game’s structures”.
The committee has already started its work, against Fifa’s advise.
With the ban, Zimbabwe cannot participate in any Fifa-sanctioned football activities and will lose its rights to grants.
This means that the Warriors will not be part of the draw for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, among other losses.
The qualifiers are set to start in May this year.
Fifa sanctions also mean local clubs are nolonger allowed to play in the Caf Champions League and the Confederations Cup.
There won’t be any international transfers, which means Zimbabwean players playing in the local league cannot move abroad.
Foreign-based players are still able to renew contracts, but cannot move to another country if their contracts expire.
Local referees will also be barred from taking part in international assignments and participating in seminars organised by Fifa and Caf.
Furthermore, the country will lack representation in regional and international conventions and no Zimbabwean will be eligible to contest for any post in Fifa and Caf or its affiliated bodies like Cosafa.
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