By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S sports regulatory body, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has downplayed the significance of extended sanctions by FIFA after the world football governing body on Thursday upheld the country’s international suspension.
The FIFA congress on Thursday voted to uphold the suspension of Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka from the international football community during its 73rd congress meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
Zimbabwe was suspended by FIFA in February last year for ‘third party interference’ last year after the SRC suspended the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA executive for several violations, chief among them failure to account for public funds and sexual harassment of female referees.
During the FIFA congress, 199 of the 200 members voted for the suspension to remain in place.
The SRC, a government-appointed sports regulatory body in Zimbabwe, has remained unmoved by the Fifa sanction, maintaining that it is not in a rush to have the suspension lifted before football has been “reformed” in the country.
SRC board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa has said FIFA’s move was unnecessary as neither ZIFA nor the regulatory body had approached the world football governing body to have the suspension lifted.
He said SRC’s immediate focus remains to oversee the implementation of key reforms which were recommended by the ZIFA Restructuring Committee before any efforts to have the suspension lifted.
“There’s nothing new here. Neither SRC nor to the best of my knowledge, ZIFA have approached FIFA to lift the suspension of Zimbabwe’s membership,” said Mlotshwa, who is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s son-in-law.
“The focus is on reforms. Our conversations with FIFA are centred on reforms and not the lifting of ZIFA’s suspension. No such formal request has been made yet.
“And no such formal request will be made until ZIFA and SRC have agreed to the roadmap we have made previous reference to. That’s where our focus is and should be. It’s as simple as that.”
FIFA insists that only the unconditional reinstatement of the Kamambo-led ZIFA executive board will see the country’s suspension from the international football family being lifted.
However, the SRC says they are no longer in a position to legally reinstate Kamambo since he was recalled by the ZIFA Congress in April last year.