Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE Warriors place at the 2021 AFCON finals in Cameroon in January appears safe, amid on-going consultations between FIFA and the Sports and Recreation Commission, over the suspension of the ZIFA board.
Those fighting in the suspended board’s corner have resorted to painting a grim picture, in which the Warriors will be kicked out of the Nations Cup finals, as part of a cocktail of sanctions, in the wake of the SRC’s intervention.
They have also turned to claiming there will be Armageddon in domestic football, with FIFA turning off the revenue streams, which oil the national game.
However, two weeks after the country’s sports regulator kicked out the ZIFA board, over a number of charges, FIFA are yet to wield the axe despite lobbying for the world football governing body to intervene.
For the lobbyists, the suspension of the country from the international football family is better than a situation where three ZIFA board members are sidelined from the administration of the national game.
However, it appears FIFA have decided to choose diplomacy rather than a knee-jerk reaction to resolve the impasse created by the suspension of the ZIFA leadership.
Reports have also suggested FIFA were not comfortable with just rushing to a decision, especially given the sensitivity of the allegations related to the abuse of female referees, which are now the subject of their Ethics Committee’s probe.
The world football governing have seemingly adopted a similar approach in Kenya.
It’s now about a month since the Government kicked out the country’s football leadership, led by Nick Mwendwa, but FIFA are yet to kick out the East African nation.
Kenya even hosted a 2022 World Cup qualifier against Rwanda in Nairobi after the FKF leadership had been dissolved.
Ironically, it was the only qualifying match that the Kenyans won during the entire campaign,as they posted a 2-1 victory.
On Sunday, two Kenyan clubs, Gor Mahia and Tusker featured in CAF Confederation Cup matches despite the dissolution of the KFK leadership, with the former losing 0-1 to Otoho d’Oyo, while the later held Tunisian outfit CS Sfaxien, to a goalless draw.
Yesterday, suspended KFK president, Nick Mwendwa, appeared in court in Nairobi, his second appearance in as many weeks, charged with four counts of fraud by the country’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
Mwendwa was arrested last Friday, the second time he was picked up this month, and spent another night in custody yesterday, ahead of a bail ruling today.
He is accused of allegedly misappropriating about US$337 220, according to the charges.
Two weeks ago, Kenyan Sports Minister, Amina Mohamed, who booted out the KFK board, revealed she held excellent consultative talks with FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura, on the football impasse in her country.
“All GOK (Government Of Kenya) decisions on football management (including the dissolution of the KFK board and appointment of a caretaker leadership) remain in place and intact,’’ she tweeted.
Yesterday, the Sports Commission said they had a fruitful meeting with FIFA over the weekend to discuss the way forward in the wake of the suspension of the ZIFA board.
The meeting was the latest in the engagements, which the country’s sports regulator have been having with FIFA since the suspension of the domestic football leadership.
“The Sports and Recreation Commission held a meeting with FIFA officials yesterday, Saturday 27th November 2021,’’ the SRC said in a statement.
‘‘The discussions, like the engagements before, have been productive.
“The parties are agreed on the manner in which matters affecting ZIFA require to be addressed.
‘‘(The) SRC and FIFA are making further consultations with their respective stakeholders and will continue to dialogue in the coming weeks towards the addressing of ZIFA’s documented shortcomings.
“Pending a definitive agreement with FIFA, the ZIFA board remains suspended, as does the ZIFA general secretary (Joseph Mamutse).’’
The suspended ZIFA chief executive, in the company of the association’s suspended president, Felton Kamambo, attended the CAF extraordinary general assembly in Cairo last week, despite their suspension.
The SRC insisted that football activities in this country should continue as scheduled and, at the weekend matches in the ZIFA Northern Region Division One league, were played for the first time, in two years.
Brighton Mudzamiri, a former World Cup referee, has been praised for the way he has managed to allocate match officials for the Premiership and Division One matches, despite the challenges he has faced.
‘‘Football in Zimbabwe, on the other hand, has not been suspended despite mischievous insinuations to the contrary in certain sections of what we will refer to as ‘sponsored’ media,’’ read the SRC statement.
“ZIFA secretariat remains in control of the management of the game on a day-to-day basis.
‘‘The Sports and Recreation Commission is in full support of its activities. Further developments will be made as and when material occurrences manifest.”
With the discussions expected to run into weeks, it looks like the Warriors participation at the AFCON finals, which has been used as a pawn by those fighting in the board’s corner, might not be jeorpadised.
The Warriors are one of the 24 teams set for the finals of the continental football jamboree, expected to take place in Cameroon, from January 9 to February 6.
Zimbabwe are in Group B, along with Senegal, Guinea and the Flames of Malawi.
Warriors team manager, Wellington Mpandare, last week confirmed they were going ahead with the preparations after submitting their 40-member provisional squad, to CAF.
Sports Commission chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa, announced the sanctions imposed on the ZIFA board, two weeks ago.
The suspension was effected in terms of Section 30 (i) (c) of the SRC Act.
“The following are some of the non-exhaustive examples, many of which are already in the public domain, that have resulted in this suspension:
Mismanagement and lack of accountability in the use of public funds with specific reference to the letter issued to ZIFA on July 3, 2019, where ZIFA was asked to account fully for the use of public funds in the aftermath of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign. The letter has not been responded to at all.
The sending of national teams, outside of Zimbabwe, without Covid-19 clearances from the SRC.
The SRC is also in receipt of a report of alleged sexual harassment of female referees by key technical staff within ZIFA. Despite several requests for the matter to be decisively dealt with, ZIFA did not give the matter adequate attention in view of its gravity. Whereas the nation has made significant strides in empowering the girl child to be an active participant in sports, incidences of sexual harassment should be conclusively dealt with to enable a conducive environment for participation by all.
Failure to address and make appropriate investment of the development fund as provided by FIFA for grassroots and junior football development.
No evidence of any meaningful development at grassroots level.’’