Zimbabwe risk Fifa ban

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THE tiff between Zifa and the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) could see Zimbabwe facing the wrath of Fifa as the latter’s action is deemed government interference.

This comes as the SRC admitted that it is wrong in its conduct particularly on the suspension of Zifa general secretary Joseph Mamutse. Mamutse was suspended by SRC on Saturday for not following protocols related to national teams travelling outside the country when the Mighty Warriors and the U17 boys and girls participated in their respective tournaments in South Africa last month.

In 2010, Nigeria was banned by Fifa after their government ordered the Super Eagles to pull out of all international competitions for two years following the team’s disappointing first round exit at the World Cup in South Africa.

Sierra Leone were also sanctioned over government interference two years ago after the country’s sports minister removed the football association president Isha Johansen and secretary-general Christopher Kamara.

“While cognisant of the possible consequences of our resolve, Zimbabwe cannot compromise its sport development efforts for fear of Fifa retribution.

“That would be unprincipled of us as a nation. We appreciate the interests of international sporting federations in seeing orderly administration,” SRC said in a statement on Tuesday.

“However, this cannot be used against our need to hold accountable, Zimbabwean sport administrators to their mandate that carries a premium on effective, efficient and transparent management.”

SRC reiterated that they will continue to discharge their duties without fear as they work towards ensuring that proper governance and administration are followed by local sports associations including Zifa.

“Towards this end, the SRC remains resolute in its decision and shall not be deterred from achieving its objectives grassroots football, and football development in general is woeful…administration failures and scandals that bedevil our national teams should be stemmed immediately, and SRC is committed to adequately correcting the problems at Zifa,” the SRC board added.

“To this end, the board of commissioners of the SRC shall proffer solutions as accorded by the SRC Act. This will ensure the return of sanity, accountability, transparency and good football administration, hopefully with the support of Fifa, whom we trust share our interest in seeing a properly administered Zifa that acts in the best interest of athletes, the public and the nation at large.

“As SRC, we believe that there is no better time to address these issues and we are confident that Zimbabweans will rally behind us as we strive to redress the rot that has sullied our beautiful game. This resolve is evident in the SRC even going to the extent of suspending its own director-general, pending investigations into the management
of recent events.

“The Commission will follow all due processes and allow an independent investigative process to be conducted. Anyone hindering or making light of these investigations will be accounted for accordingly.” Interestingly, SRC chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa said similar statements during his board’s interference in the affairs of Zimbabwe Cricket where he fired the entire board in June over allegations of electoral malpractices and financial misappropriation.

The International Cricket Council responded by suspending Zimbabwe from international cricket and instructed the SRC to reinstate the ZC board, forcing Mlotshwa to eat humble pie. Sport minister Kirsty Coventry who was in Gweru yesterday, was quizzed on the tiff between Zifa and SRC and chose to remain on the fence.

The former Olympian, however, did not rule out the possibility of her playing a mediatory role in the protracted battle between the warring parties.

“I don’t have any comment really, the SRC board is the one that oversees good governance and Zifa have not been following national health protocols for Covid-19 and teams travelling outside,” said Coventry.

“I am going to stay aside because at some point there will be some mediation, so right now I am not taking sides, and when they come to me with reports then we take it from there.”

Meanwhile, Zifa through their lawyers Ngarava, Moyo and Chikono on Tuesday wrote to SRC seeking the reversal of Mamutse’s suspension.

“We are instructed that on November 30, you suspended our client’s general-secretary from all forms of football administration.

The letter dated November 26, 2020 was served on the recipient Mamutse on November 30, 2020. The legal authority for the decision taken as per your letter, is the provisions of Section 30 (1) of the SRC Act (Chapter 25:15), the Act,” wrote the Zifa lawyers.

“We advise that we are aware of the considered view that the suspension is unlawful and unprocedural. The decision by the SRC was arrived at without following the correct procedure and in any event, it is unlawful. Section 30 (1) (c) of the Act, is adjudicative in nature and not investigative. The SRC can only resort to section 30 of the Act after having conducted its own investigation and found the association concerned guilty. For this to be done, the association should be accorded an opportunity to be heard.

“Further, and in any event, our client is an affiliate of Fifa. The governing statutes for the administration of our client’s affairs are clear that they do not allow any third party interference in the administration of its affairs…from the afore going it is clear that the decision of SRC is both unlawful and unprocedural. We are instructed to, as we hereby do, demand that you retract the said suspension letter within 24 hours of the date of this letter, failing which we have instructions to institute litigation to challenge the decision and further report the matter to our client’s parent body, Fifa.”

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