By Sports Reporter
FOOTBALL’S governing body FIFA has banned Zimbabwe from international competitions Thursday, citing government interference in the decision. The suspension means Zimbabwe can also no longer compete in age-restricted or international club competitions while local clubs will also be banned from continental interclub competitions.
The Zurich-based soccer governing body had previously threatened to suspend Zimbabwe late last year after the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board was suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) last year over a litany of charges that include corruption and sexual abuse of female referees.
Last Friday, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) through their secretary general, Véron Mosengo-Omba told the SRC the minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry to reinstate the Zifa board.
However, with the SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa insisting that the local sports regulatory body would stick to its decision, FIFA which does not tolerate government interference was left with no choice but to ban the country from international football until the ZIFA board is reinstated.
“Consequently, and in accordance with article 13 of the FIFA Statutes, ZIFA loses all its membership rights as of 24 February 2022 until further notice. ZIFA representative and club teams are therefore no longer entitled to take part in international competitions until the suspension is lifted. This also means that neither the ZIFA nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programmes, courses or training from FIFA and/or CAF,” FIFA secretary general Fatma Samoura said in a statement.
“Finally, notwithstanding this suspension imposed on ZIFA and in line with FIFA zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, sexual abuse and any other unethical conduct, FIFA reiterates its commitment to cooperating with any ongoing investigations regarding alleged sexual harassment and bribery by ZIFA officials. FIFA will therefore remain at the disposal of the national authorities and plaintiffs with respect to the above during the suspension period.”
FIFA had given the SRC until January 3 to reinstate the board and following a meeting on Thursday, the world governing body resolved to ban Zimbabwe from all FIFA activities.
Meanwhile in a related development, Football Kenya Federation was also been suspended by FIFA due to ‘interference by a third party’.
“Without prejudice to any investigations by national authorities or other judicial bodies, the FIFA Council also decided to suspend the Football Kenya Federation and the Zimbabwe Football Association with immediate effect due to undue interference by a third party,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said.