By Mary Taruvinga
HARARE: Suspended Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) president Felton Kamambo and Philimon Machana will miss a next week’s FIFA congress in Qatar which is expected to ratify the country’s ban from international games.
This follows Harare magistrate Stanford Kambanje’s dismissal of the pair’s applications seeking temporary release of their passports.
Machana and Kamambo are facing criminal charges together with members of the ZIFA executive.
FIFA suspended Zimbabwe last month citing government interference in the game after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) sacked the ZIFA board.
Defence lawyer Admire Rubaya tried Wednesday to convince the court that release of Kamambo and Machana’s passports would allow them to appeal to FIFA to lift its ban on Zimbabwe.
The lawyer said the country had been given up to March 31 to review the suspension of the ZIFA board, failing which a fully-fledged ban will be effected.
“By 31 March, Zimbabwe is risking being fully banned which will have consequences to the country,” he said.
“The accused will go to bridge the dispute with FIFA so that the country cannot be banned for long. They must be allowed to save Zimbabwean soccer.
“The accused are elected officials and FIFA said they can only speak to Kamambo and Machana, whether they (Sports Commission) like it or not if they want to save soccer they should let these accused persons attend the FIFA meeting.
“They (ZIFA bosses) are prepared to be accompanied by any state official in order to allay fears that they will advocate for more bans.”
Rubaya continued; “If they are not allowed to travel the ban will be effected and those games like Dynamos or Highlanders they would be boozers.
“We don’t want to cripple individuals like players because there is someone who hates Kamambo and Machana.
“Even if the Dynamos, Highlanders or Caps United football club win the league they will not be able to play in CAF (continental tournaments) but will end up being boozers.
“Even referees will not get assignments outside Zimbabwe, they will be refereeing boozers.”
However, the magistrate said Zimbabwe is already prepared to suffer the of FIFA’s ban hence there would be no prejudice if the two failed to attend the congress.