Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
The Sports and Recreation Commission says while it has noted the purported suspension of the country as a member of the Fifa family, the Zifa executive committee and its general secretary remain suspended with sources saying the country’s supreme sports body was seriously contemplating appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sports in Switzerland.
Yesterday however, SRC chairman Gerald Mlotshwa said the country will only return to the Family of football when it was in a condition to do as such.
The world football governing body on Thursday suspended Zifa from all international football activities for what it said was a flagrant violation of Fifa statutes particularly article 14, Paragraph 1i) and article 19 paragraph 1.
In a statement yesterday, SRC board chairman Gerald Mlotshwa said it appeared as if Fifa was constrained by the provisions of its own statutes to protect what he said were certain undoubted sexual predators, fraudsters and corrupt administrators who were at the helm of football administration in the country, adding that Fifa were doing this in the name of shielding Zifa from what Fifa says is undue interference from a third party.
He said it remained a fact that some of the Zifa administrators were facing sexual harassment, bribery, fraud and general corruption charges which were all before the courts in Zimbabwe.
“Correspondence from Fifa, dated the 24th instant, addressed to the suspended Zifa General Secretary purporting to suspend the country’s national football association as a member of the Fifa “family” is noted.
In essence, it appears that Fifa is constrained by the provisions of its own statutes to protect certain of the undoubted sexual predators, fraudsters and corrupt administrators at the helm of football administration in Zimbabwe.
All this in the name of shielding Zifa from, to quote Fifa in its letter “ . . . undue interference from a third party.”
It is a fact that some of these administrators are facing, inter alia, charges of sexual harassment, bribery, fraud and general corruption before Zimbabwe’s Courts.
Fifa has the full details of these matters.
It is clear that Fifa has interpreted these very serious charges as “mere allegations”, notwithstanding its “ . . . zero tolerance policy towards corruption, sexual abuse and any other unethical conduct”.
Both Fifa and Caf are fully aware of an insidious culture of sexual harassment perpetrated against female football referees in Zimbabwe.
For the 18 months lapsed since these allegations were brought to their respective attention, neither body has initiated any tangible investigation focused on culprits whose names are known to them,” said Mlotshwa.
He said the instances of fraud and corruption within the corridors of Zifa have also been brought to the attention of Fifa, “who have placed on record their extreme reluctance to involve themselves in remedying this deplorable state of affairs”.
The SRC, said Mlotshwa, has a documented and demonstrable “zero tolerance policy towards corruption, sexual abuse and any other unethical conduct in the administration of sport in Zimbabwe”, adding the SRC does not pay mere lip service to the same.
He said the SRC is guided by the laws of Zimbabwe and Fifa statutes are not part of those laws.
Mlotshwa said Fifa recognises Zifa as the sole governing body for football in Zimbabwe by virtue of it’s registration with the SRC.
“We, at the SRC, act decisively within the confines of the laws of Zimbabwe, in particular the Sports and Recreation Commission Act as well as the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.
Fifa statutes are not a part of the laws of Zimbabwe. Conversely, Zifa, and indeed all other national sports associations in the country, are subject to the laws of Zimbabwe.
It is for this reason that they, and their respective constitutions, are registered with the SRC. Fifa recognizes Zifa as the sole governing body for football administration in Zimbabwe by virtue of its registration with the SRC.
It is on this basis that it is admitted as a member of the “Fifa Family” by Fifa.
It suffices to quote, for the time being, a perceptive message received from Caf president, Patrice Motsepe: – We remain committed to finding a solution that respects the sovereignty and legal issues that you raised and is in accordance with the statutes and regulations of Fifa and Caf . . .
Pending any such compromise, the Zifa executive committee and the General Secretary shall remain suspended.
The various matters pending before the Courts in Zimbabwe shall continue as shall the criminal proceedings and all other actions focused on restructuring football in our country.
Domestic football will continue in Zimbabwe. It will be supported fully by the SRC, as has been the demonstrable case thus far.
Zifa will return to the “Fifa Family” when it is in a condition fit to do so, said Mlotshwa.
Article Source: The Chronicle