Southern Times Writer
Tshwane – The insistence by Zimbabwe’s Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to wield the axe on the country’s top football authorities is already starting to take a toll on efforts to develop the sport at grassroots level.
However, it is the international implications of a possible Fifa ban on Zimbabwean football that are likely to leave the most popular sport in that country at its lowest ebb.
The SRC, a body set up and run by the government to oversee the operations of national sports associations, recently suspended Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) chairman Felton Kamambo and his executive.
The SRC cited allegations of fraud as well as alleged sexual harassment of female referees by technical staff to justify the ban.
There is also a strong feeling within the local football fraternity that Zimbabwe’s dismal failure to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in a campaign that saw them finishing bottom of Group G could have also influenced the ban.
Fifa frowns on government interference in football affairs and the SRC’s action could see Zimbabwe being banned from all forms of football.
Zimbabwe is due to compete in next year’s African Nations Cup and a Fifa ban could mean the Warriors – whose impeccable performance during the qualifying stages of the biennial tournament became a major talking point in local football circles – would have to skip that tournament.
But SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa is unfazed by such a prospect.
He said: “We are prepared for whatever might happen. If Fifa decides to ban Zimbabwean football, we are prepared for that.
“We have planned for that. If that happens, we look at it as being a short-term measure. I think Zimbabwean football needs this space and this opportunity to fix itself.”
Domestically, the ban of the Zifa board has stalled a referees development project that was supposed to be facilitates by legendary retired referee Felix Tangawarima.
As reported in the previous edition of The Southern Times, Tangawarima was due to facilitate two Zifa elite referees and technical referees instructors courses in Bulawayo from 19 – 27 November.
That project, which had been given the green light by Fifa, has now been put on hold and it remains uncertain – for now – when or if it will take off.
A Fifa ban could also have devastating effects on domestic football as clubs might be barred from taking part in CAF international competitions such as the Champions League or the Confederation Cup.
Historically, Fifa bans have often included a freeze on the much needed financial assistance to affected member associations.
Over the years, the SRC has crossed paths with Fifa and the International Cricket Council over governance issues.
While the two international sports bodies are always swift to take action against any perceived political interference, the SRC – by virtue of being a government-appointed entity – feels it is duty-bound to ensure that a culture of proper governance is adhered to by all national sports associations.