21 Nov, 2021 - 00:11 0 Views

The Sunday Mail

Petros Kausiyo and Langton Nyakwenda

AS the Zimbabwe football family awaits FIFA’s reaction to the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC)’s decision to suspend the ZIFA board, the sports governing body’s bold move has since received backing from various stakeholders.

FIFA told The Sunday Mail Sport last week that they were still monitoring the situation.

It has, however, emerged that the suspended Felton Kamambo-led board had written to the world soccer governing body seeking recourse.

But sources privy to the goings on indicated that FIFA had asked SRC chair Gerald Mlotshwa to be furnished with details of what inspired the move.

Despite the slew of allegations that make up ZIFA’s charge sheet, it is believed that the regulator’s main bone of contention is failure by the association to account for public funds that had been provided for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

ZIFA have already approached the Government to fund the 2022 AFCON in Cameroon even after failing to respond to a July 3, 2019 letter from the commission to explain how they used the money that was extended to them.

Unlike in the past, FIFA have not rushed to sanction the country, which possibly suggests a change in approach.

A precedent was recently set when FIFA secretary-general Fatma Samoura went to Djibouti and met various stakeholders, including Prime Minister Kanil Mohamed, to discuss challenges that had arisen in that country’s game.

On Wednesday, she similarly had a virtual meeting with the Kenyan Minister of Sport, Amina Mohamed, after the minister’s decision to disband the Federation of Kenyan Football (FKF).

“Government’s decision on football management (remains) intact after holding a meeting with FIFA secretary-general Samoura,” Minister Amina revealed on her Twitter handle.

The FKF was disbanded two weeks ago and replaced with a caretaker committee led by retired judge Aaron Ringera, which will superintend over football activities for the next six months.

Legal expert and former ZIFA lawyer Itai Ndudzo welcomed SRC’s recent move and dismissed claims by ZIFA’s legal representatives that it was a nullity.

“The decision by the SRC cannot be faulted at law. The SRC is a statutory body created in terms of the SRC Act Chapter 25:15. In terms of the Act, the SRC has the mandate to register and regulate sports associations. ZIFA freely and voluntarily registered itself as a sporting association in terms of Section 29,” he said.

“The act of registration subordinates ZIFA to the SRC. ZIFA bound itself to fully comply with the registered constitution and the Act. The sole question to be asked is whether the SRC has acted in terms of the Act? The answer is simple: The action taken by the SRC is provided for in terms of Section 30 of the Act.’’

Ndudzo said even if ZIFA claim to be an independent body, their constitution had been registered and approved by the SRC and was subject to the country’s laws.

“Article 1.1 of the ZIFA constitution is itself very clear: ZIFA is a private organisation of an associative nature in compliance with the legislation of Zimbabwe . . . so there cannot be debate on the application of provisions of the SRC Act over ZIFA. It is the same constitution registered and recognised by FIFA.”

Football development coaches also weighed in.

Aces Youth Academy director and former Warriors coach Marc Duvillard said a FIFA ban on Zimbabwe could even be welcome given the dearth of meaningful development programmes by ZIFA.

“I think the best can happen if we are suspended by FIFA for two years, as it gives an opportunity to start again from scratch and organise everything,” said Duvillard.

“There is nothing in junior football, we do not have a full-time coach for the Under-15, Under-17, Under-21 and even Under-23, but we expect to do better. So if a suspension is imposed, it gives us time to look into our grassroots and maybe work with the academies for our football.”

Legends Academy coach Farai Dhliwayo agrees.

“The entire ZIFA structure needs to banned and a new progressive structure put in place.

“Football is played globally and every country has a football association.

“Does ZIFA’s organisational structure and way of operating match that of the German, American, British, Brazilian or South African football associations?

“We don’t have to recreate the wheel to become professional; we have many precedents that we can study,” he said.

“However, if the will is not there to progress, then this suspension will not yield any results.

“There must be new standards and accountability for all posts and positions at ZIFA.”

Former Zimbabwe and CAPS United centre-back Dumisani Mpofu believes what the SRC did was “commendable”.

“This move could initiate change in the administration of the game here in Zimbabwe.

“Ban or no ban, whatever, as long as we make sure we have cleaned up the mess. Our national team has gone for about 12 games without a win; you can’t blame a coach in such a scenario, there should be something behind the scenes that will be contributing to the failure,” insists Mpofu.

“SRC yakatotigonera. Players are not getting something tangible from this ZIFA when they go for tournaments, yet we hear that these officials take friends and relatives to tournaments like AFCON,” he added.

Veteran administrator and Harare City chairperson Alois Masepe opines that “we should not tolerate incompetence, neither should we accept these losses by our national team”.

He, however, cautioned that there was need to exercise due diligence, as making mistakes could lead to dire consequences.

“That’s why I want to insist on the adherence to due processes in pursuing the objective of protecting sport from the clutches of charlatans and conmen,” said Masepe.

“However, the basic human right and fair play principle to follow in cases involving allegations against a person or corporate body is that such allegations must be thoroughly investigated first to verify existence of prima facie charges.

“Disciplinary action must be based on the findings of a transparent, fair and thorough investigation.”

Masepe believes the SRC should have consulted CAF and FIFA on the allegations and then walk together with the two bodies to initiate an unbiased investigation into the alleged ZIFA misdemeanours.

“We need to hasten with care in areas involving powerful international sports controlling bodies such the ones that run football, rugby, cricket, tennis, et cetera. They are strategic and important key stakeholders in the sports industry and we can ignore them at our peril,” he added.

“You don’t cut your nose to spite your face. A wrong move to correct a wrong situation will spoil everything.

“We really mind if we are banned, we don’t want to disturb the careers of these young boys and girls. We should ensure the interest of the clubs and players are protected.”

In dealing with the “undesirables” in football, he added, there was need to be circumspect to ensure that the national interest in protected “in terms of the careers of our sportspersons and the development of the nascent sports industry”.

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