Munetsi stands up for players

Warriors midfielder Marshal Munetsi

Warriors midfielder Marshal Munetsi has once again pleaded with the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), and the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) to set their differences aside so that the country’s suspension from global football can be lifted by Fifa.

The suspension was imposed in February last year after the SRC disbanded the Zifa executive led by Felton Kamambo over a number of charges, including misappropriation of Fifa funds.

Those charges, however, have not been substantiated and no arrest has been made more than a year later.

The sanction means that all national teams and clubs cannot participate in international football competitions.

Fifa has said the only way for Zimbabwe to be readmitted back into international football is for the SRC to reverse its decision on Kamambo and his executive.

But SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa has remained adamant that Kamambo will not return to office.

Instead, the SRC appointed a restructuring committee which last month produced a report giving recommendations on how to reform the domestic game.

It appears Munetsi, who has been the most vocal Zimbabwean player in the SRC-Zifa saga, will not rest until the suspension on the country’s football is lifted.

On a day he was celebrating helping his Ligue 1 side Stade Reims to a comprehensive 4-0 derby rout of Troyes, the 27-year-old took to social media to once again implore the warring parties to come to the negotiating table and find an amicable solution to their differences so that Zimbabwe can be allowed to participate in international football.

He fears that the country could miss out on the Fifa 2026 World Cup qualifiers which start later this year.

“As we approach the next set of qualifiers, as football players, we are reminded that our national teams remain banned from participating in any international assignments, (and) this reminder cascades down to the fans as well,” Munetsi said.

Fifty-four African countries will compete for 10 tickets for the expanded 48-team World Cup to be held in North America — up from five Caf representatives in Qatar.

Nine countries from the Caf zone will qualify directly to the World Cup finals in the United States and Canada.

In addition, one African country will gain access through the intercontinental play-offs.

The exact format and dates of the Caf qualifiers are still subject to a final decision by Fifa.

Munetsi said the Warriors fans were also feeling the pinch of not watching their favourite team in action.

“As things stand, we continue to lose a generation of talented footballers because they do not have opportunities to showcase their talent during national team assignments,” he wrote on Twitter.

“This situation continues to harm not only the future of football in the country, but it is depriving the general community of the downstream benefits that football can bring to the social economy of the nation.

“I continue to implore to the SRC and Zifa, urging all the parties involved to find common ground and come to an amicable solution that will allow our football to survive as we move into the future.”

Munetsi, who was last month appointed to the FIFPRO’s Global Player Council, has vowed to continue speaking out to the authorities until they come to their senses.

The council is a platform for active players with international experience ensuring viewpoints from men’s and women’s football and different leagues from around the world are heard.

His colleagues in the grouping include Italy legend Giorgio Chiellini and Argentina World Cup winner Nicholas Tagliafico.

“Our football needs us to find each other and for us to move in one direction and speak with one voice. The participation of our country at major tournaments stands to benefit us more,” Munetsi said.

Meanwhile, Munetsi continues to impress for Reims following his man of the match performance in the 4-0 win over Troyes at the weekend to move his side into ninth place on the log standings.

The former Orlando Pirates player scored the opener just after 10 minutes before setting up Myziane Maolida for the second.

Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun scored the third and Jens Cajuste sealed the win.

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