FIFA backs under-fire Felton Kamambo ZIFA board

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By Sports Reporter

FIFA has rejected the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC)’s request to the World football governing body to remove the ZIFA leadership from office and replace it with a normalisation committee.

SRC board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa recently made damning corruption allegations against the current Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board in a letter to the Fifa secretary-general Fatma Samoura.

Mlotshwa wanted the domestic football leadership removed from office until fresh elections are held.

However, the world football governing body Thursday finally broke its silence on the matter and threw its weight behind the ZIFA leadership.

FIFA’s deputy secretary general (Administration) Alasdair Bell wrote to Mlotshwa on Thursday advising him that while the world football governing body was happy with the manner in which its funds were being handled by ZIFA, SRC was free to seek explanation on how taxpayers funds were being administered.

“We refer to your letter dated 14 August 2019, through which you requested FIFA to appoint a normalisation committee for the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), namely because of allegations of financial mismanagement,” Bell said.

“At the outset, we would like to underline that FIFA encourages close cooperative relations between its member associations and national governments.

“In addition, we expect our member associations to be fully accountable for and, if required, submit to the authorities all relevant information regarding the use of public funds, if any are provided, in line with the pertinent national legislation.

FIFA added: “Regarding funding provided by FIFA, we would like to inform you that every member association receiving FIFA Forward development funds, including ZIFA, is subject to rigorous controls in the use of these funds. This includes an annual central audit review which is undertaken by an independent professional auditor appointed by FIFA. Adverse findings noted by the auditors are reported to the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee and may result in a restriction or even suspension of funding. Furthermore, in the event of any suspicion of the misuse of funds, the matter is referred to the competent FIFA judicial body. ”

Bell said the allegations made by SRC against the ZIFA board were not sufficient to warrant FIFA’s intervention and warned SRC against taking any action which could violate its statutes which prohibit government interference in the affairs of its member associations’ affairs.

“As a consequence of the above, we deem that the conditions for setting up a normalisation committee for ZIFA in line with art. 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes are not fulfilled. In this context, we must remind you about the contents of art. 14 par. 1 let. i) and art. 19 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes, which stipulate that all member associations are obliged to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties,” FIFA said.

“Therefore, should the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts & Recreation of Zimbabwe, upon recommendation of the Sports and Recreation Committee (SRC), decide to appoint an interim committee to administer the affairs of ZIFA, it would be considered undue influence in the sense of the FIFA Statutes. Consequently, the matter would be presented to the relevant FIFA bodies for consideration and possible action, which may include the suspension of ZIFA.”

“Finally, we would like to inform you that FIFA is engaged in assisting ZIFA with its debt servicing strategy. In this regard, we would like to underline that we remain at the authorities’ disposal to discuss, if possible, joint efforts to address ZIFA’s current financial situation.”

The decision made by ZIFA comes as a fresh blow to the SRC which recently failed in its bid to remove the Zimbabwe Cricket board after its decision backfired, resulting in the country being barred by the International Cricket Council (ICC) from participating in the upcoming men and women’s T20 World Cup qualifiers.