Football lovers may have to brace for more confusion in the local game in the wake of belligerent declarations by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and The Zimbabwe football Association (Zifa) over the state of the local game’s administration.
The SRC triggered the latest impasse by suspending Zifa chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse and SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho last week, accusing them of clearing national teams for assignments in South Africa under questionable circumstances in disregard of the prevailing Covid-19 environment.
The pair’s suspension, according to the SRC, was to pave way for investigations into their conduct.
It would seem the SRC also wants to use this moment to “clean up” football administration at Zifa.
Zifa has already brushed aside the SRC’s accusations, saying there is no justification for suspending Mamutse and pronounced that it had also lost trust in the country’s supreme sports body, an indication that it was prepared to fight.
The national association has for now allowed Mamutse to go on leave, but its reaction questioning the SRC’s authority to suspend him could have further stoked the fires, as the SRC declared in a statement that it will not be bullied by threats of Fifa sanctions.
Fifa doesn’t take kindly to interference in the affairs of national football associations by governments or statutory bodies such as the SRC and as things stand, Zifa risks being suspended by Fifa, which will automatically throw out the Warriors and FC Platinum from Afcon and World Cup qualifiers as well as the Champions League.
So, by vowing that it will not be bullied, the SRC is saying it is prepared for whatever sanctions Fifa might impose, including barring Zimbabwean teams from taking part in any Fifa or Caf competitions.
The SRC believes there are numerous other issues holding back the development of the local game, which football authorities have failed to deal with and wants to work with all stakeholders, including Zifa, to stamp them out.
But will Zifa play ball when the stakes are so high to the extent of threatening their leadership positions in the board?
And how long can the SRC sustain its current stance?
Remember that the SRC adopted a similar stance last year in June when it suspended the Zimbabwe Cricket board on allegations of electoral malpractices and misappropriation of funds, only to capitulate after the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspended the country’s membership and expulsion loomed.
The ICC froze financial support to Zimbabwe Cricket and banned local cricketers from events sanctioned by the world cricket controlling body and set an October 12 deadline for the suspended board to be reinstated or face expulsion.
The SRC climbed down and reinstated the suspended Zimbabwe Cricket board, but the standoff proved costly to the local game.
The men’s and women’s senior national teams were barred from participating in the T20 World Cup qualifiers during the impasse, whilst players and Zimbabwe Cricket office staff went for months without pay, as the ICC withheld funding.
Zimbabwe Cricket is funded by the ICC and the temporary withdrawal of funding had collapsed local cricket.
SRC’s reputation is at stake here and hopefully it fully applied its mind before taking the current drastic action at Zifa, otherwise it risks being relegated to just another dormant regulatory body.
There is no doubt that domestic football administration is in shambles, with greed and incompetence hindering any form of development, but the SRC must ensure its ducks are in a row since it appears Zifa’s only defence is to run to Fifa for cover.
All evidence points against maladministration at Zifa. The leadership has no focus and interest in securing a place in the association’s board seems motivated by controlling the association’s purse funded by Fifa to the tune millions of dollars annually.
Junior football has been completely ignored and players are only assembled just for the sake of fulfilling regional fixtures to continue receiving development fees from Fifa.
There are no structures to stimulate development such as identifying and nurturing talent.
Only the senior national men’s team, the Warriors, are treated with respect, as most players have been exposed to professionalism at their clubs abroad and can stand for their rights.
In fact, Zifa is guilty of almost all accusations raised against it, but if the SRC adopts an approach similar to its unsuccessful Zimbabwe Cricket intervention, the results will be the same.
It’s clear that Zifa’s only defence is to hide behind Fifa statutes and the SRC better has an ace up its sleeve to avoid being left with more egg on its face.
Also Read: THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT GINIMBI
Genius Kadungure aka Ginimbi was a popular Zimbabwean socialite and businessman.
He was also the founder and Chief Executive Officer of a gas company, Pioneer Gases which has interests in Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. He was also the owner of Dreams Nightlife Club...read more