By Sports Reporter
SPORTS and Recreation Commission (SRC) board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa says the sports regulatory body will not back down in the face of a possible FIFA ban on the country’s football over alleged government interference in the affairs of ZIFA.
Zimbabwe is facing possible sanctions by FIFA if the world football governing body deems the SRC’s recent suspension of ZIFA chief executive Joseph Mamutse as government meddling.
SRC recently announced it had suspended Mamutse over irregularities in the manner in which some national football teams were cleared for foreign assignments in light of stringent Covid-19 protocols.
A cornered ZIFA has insisted in invoking FIFA statutes which frown upon any perceived government interference on the national game and its governing authority.
FIFA resolutely opposes any government interference, or that of a third party, in the affairs of any member association.
However, the SRC is not backing down with Mlotshwa telling a media conference in Harare on Monday that his organisation was keen on restoring order in Zimbabwean football.
Mlotshwa insisted any counter efforts, even by FIFA would be inconsequential.
A FIFA ban would have devastating consequences on Zimbabwean football as it will result in the country’s expulsion from all levels of international football as well as freezing of funding in the form of grants from the global football-governing body.
The SRC however, appears unfazed.
“FIFA does not control Zimbabwe as a country…FIFA does not control the Sports and Recreation Commission in Zimbabwe, the relationship that FIFA has with Zimbabwe is with ZIFA,” Mlotshwa charged when asked if his recent actions would not result in a FIFA ban.
“ZIFA as an affiliate of FIFA is subject to FIFA statutes but equally because ZIFA is a registered national sports association with the Sports and Recreation Commission, it is also subject to domestic laws in this country and the domestic laws of this country take precedence over ZIFA’s relationship with FIFA.”
Mlotshwa, who is President Emmerson Mnagangwa’s son-in-law, said the SRC would not be arm-twisted by threats of a possible FIFA ban.
“When we act like we did about two weeks ago in suspending Joseph Mamutse from all forms of sports administration in this country, the reasons relate to the SRC carrying out its statutory role and I think we said it quite clearly; we can’t sit back….when laws are violated, we can’t sit back and do nothing because we don’t want to upset ZIFA or FIFA, because we are scared of being suspended.”
Mlotshwa added: “We must not do things or do things because we are scared to be suspended as a country from FIFA programmes. And in fact, a lot of the times when we make these decisions, yes, we consider that fact, but we weigh it on what is in the best interests of the country.
“Is it in the best interests of the country that people just do as they like whether its corruption in whatever sporting discipline or weather its deliberate foul play of the law by sending teams outside the country without following Covid-19 regulations?
“Flouting of Covid-19 regulations constitutes a criminal offence; lets understand that. How far the ZRP has gone in terms of investigating exactly what happened is another issue altogether we as the SRC are looking at it purely from a regulatory perspective and we can’t let threats of suspension dictate how we deal with it.
“Otherwise we will never do anything. We will be letting ourselves down.”
Last year, the SRC was forced to eat humble pie after Zimbabwe was briefly suspended by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The SRC had sensationally fired the entire board and managing director of the country’s cricket association but was forced to reverse the decision following a national outcry that was ignited by the ICC suspension.