SRC keep nation guessing

Source: SRC keep nation guessing | Herald (Top Stories)

Eddie Chikamhi

Senior Sports Reporter

THE Sports and Recreation have kept the whole nation guessing the next step that Zimbabwean football will take with their recent “quiet diplomacy” even after CAF had opened a window for the suspended Warriors to participate in the upcoming AFCON 2023 qualifiers.  

Zimbabwe and Kenya, who are facing the same predicament after FIFA announced suspensions citing “third party interference” recently, have been handed a chance to participate in the next AFCON tournament after they were involved in the draws despite their status.

But their participation would be based on the condition that they first have to satisfy FIFA to lift the suspensions at least two weeks before kick off of the qualifying games.

The Warriors were placed in Group K along with Morocco, Liberia and neighbours South Africa. They are scheduled to host Liberia in the opening match on June 9, which means they have exactly two weeks to meet the CAF deadline.

But almost a month after CAF made the concession, the local authorities have not made an official statement despite the anxiety across the domestic football spectrum.

Apparently FIFA have demanded that the Sports Commission reverse their decision to suspend the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board, which was suspended last November over a chain of allegations that included failure to account for public funds and sexual harassment of female referees.

The Sports Commission in response have said they were not in a hurry to lift the suspension of the ZIFA board and will only do so once all the key reforms have been instituted.

Many things have happened in the five months since the suspension of the ZIFA board by the Sports Commission last November.

There have also been developments on the local front as disgruntled members of the ZIFA Assembly also convened their Congress and voted Kamambo and two other members — Philemon Machana and Bryton Malandule — out of office.

The ZIFA assembly members had been hoping that the board would be reinstated after kicking out Kamambo and the other “bad apples” so that they could save the AFCON 2023 campaign and continue with the cleansing of the domestic game.

They have since written to the Sports Commission advising that they had installed Gift Banda as acting ZIFA president. But apart from acknowledging receipt of the correspondence to The Herald, the Sports Commission are yet to make a public statement.

A source at ZIFA however indicated that there have been behind-the-scenes engagements and that the Sports Commission are not bending on their desire to cleanse the rot in local football administration.   

“The Sports Commission have been briefed about the communication from CAF and FIFA and regarding the AFCON 2023. They are also aware of the changes that have taken place within the ZIFA board after a letter was written informing them of the resolutions taken at the recent ZIFA Congress and the request for the suspension on the board to be lifted.

“But so far the ZIFA office is still waiting for further guidance. Apparently, the Sports Commission are keen to finish off what they started, which is cleansing football administration and laying up structures for future success.

“But in the event that they lift the suspension of the ZIFA board, they have indicated they want clear guarantees that the people at ZIFA are ready to reform. They want commitment from everyone,” said the source.  

This comes as the Sports Commission had said they were already prepared for the consequences of the FIFA congress, and will go ahead with the planned clean-up of domestic football before considering FIFA membership at the “fullness of time”.

The Sports Commission have since set up a restructuring committee to work on strategies to bring the administration of the domestic game back on sound footing after years of disintegration.

According to their terms of reference, the principal role of the Committee shall be to review and recommend reforms in the administration of football in Zimbabwe in the following areas-:  the ZIFA Constitution, ZIFA Executive, Junior Football Development, Strategic plan, Elections and Forensic audit.

The Committee has been doing closed door stakeholder consultations. The Committee is also in the process of establishing technology portals to facilitate fan participation and engagement.

According to the Sports Commission, the committee has until December 31 to complete its mandate, which could be a huge signal that participation in tournaments is not a priority at the moment.

This comes as their Kenyan counterparts have finalised their six-month mission and handed over findings to their Ministry of Sports. The Kenyans will be waiting with bated breath today as the authorities give a breakdown of the roadmap to be taken towards revival of football.

Meanwhile, former Football Kenya Federation president Sam Nyamweya yesterday called on the Kenyan government to start engaging the world governing body FIFA so they can come up with a roadmap to readmit the country into international football.

This also follows as a case in court that was challenging the minister for dissolving the federation was dismissed in favour of the government.

“The decision by the High Court also gives legal backing to the move by the minister last November to send the FKF NEC packing and leaves FIFA with little option but to start working with the government,” he told Goal.

“It is, therefore, my humble submission to the Sports Cabinet Secretary that the ball is now in your court to sort out the situation with the speed it deserves.

“While I thank the courts for looking at the bigger picture and offering the country an opportunity to move forward, any wrong mistake by the Cabinet Secretary may take us back to where we were before the mess.

“It is time for the Cabinet Secretary to engage FIFA so we can have a normalisation committee in place that will set the roadmap towards drafting a new constitution under which we will go into fresh elections…

“Therefore, the Cabinet Secretary must move with speed to engage FIFA and CAF so we are not locked out of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. The Cabinet Secretary should also call a stakeholders’ conference to help her in formulating a way forward.

“While we appreciate the energy and zeal the Cabinet Secretary has had in bringing sanity to our football I can say we are not yet in Canaan. The real work starts now the time of the Caretaker Committee she appointed in November has expired and the court has ruled in her favour.

“Let us not waste this golden opportunity to make our football great again,” said Nyamweya.

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