Felton Kamambo

Members of Parliament yesterday implored the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to reinstate the suspended Zifa board to save careers of footballers, who stand to be affected by the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) family.

Last month, Fifa suspended Zifa due to third-party interference after the SRC had dissolved the local football body’s executive committee members over alleged misuse of public funds, sexual harassment issues as well as incompetence among other issues.

The SRC has since established a restructuring committee which will map the road to fresh Zifa elections.

They also queried why the SRC could not wait for the Zifa board members to be voted out in elections set for December.

The SRC board yesterday appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Sport where the two bodies had a robust discussion on the suspension of Zimbabwe by Fifa.

SRC chairperson  Gerald Mlotshwa made a presentation on what led to the suspension of Zifa by Fifa and the way forward.

While some of the legislators appreciated the issues that were raised by the SRC which led to the dissolution of the Zifa board, they raised concern that the country will suffer many heavy losses due to the Fifa ban.

Former Zifa boss, Omega Sibanda complained that the Fifa ban closes opportunities for local players.

“For the period that this process is going to be taking place, our players will not be able to move internationally. They cannot transfer from one country to another. Tino Kadewere, who was supposed to move, will not be able to do that for as long as the ban is in effect. Our players will suffer, let’s look at the welfare and careers of the players,” he said.

Mlotshwa said the country should be prepared to endure pain, adding that they could not keep on postponing the process of cleaning up football.

“Let’s not focus on what Fifa will say. What we are trying to do is for the future of football in this country. We cannot continue postponing the process.”

Sibanda charged that the SRC was punishing football and not treating other sport codes in the same manner.

“Why are you focusing on football alone? Which sport codes in this country has got sound junior structures? All the sport codes in the country do not have junior structures, so why are you punishing football? Confederation of African Football (Caf) have banned our stadia, they asked you to put bucket seats, where are they? The National Sports Stadium is under SRC, what have you done there?” he queried.

In his presentation, Mlotshwa revealed that investigations had unearthed more cases of sexual harassment against female referees.

“Initially, we had three complaints of sexual harassment but investigations revealed that sexual harassment was insidious. There was sex for games. Sleep with me and I will give you a game,” he said.

One of the reasons that the Zifa executive committee members were suspended is failure to investigate complaints of sexual harassment.

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