The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has accused Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) of double standards following its decision to suspend Zimbabwe over the dissolution of the Zifa board.
Following the suspension of Zimbabwe from international football activities, the SRC yesterday held a Press briefing where it reaffirmed its position that it would not reinstate the Zifa board until they “sort out the game” in the country.
SRC chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa questioned why Fifa was Ok with governments financing football associations, but cannot hold them accountable.
The SRC said it would not be bullied by Fifa into reinstating the Felton Kamambo-led executive committee.
Last week, Fifa suspended Zimbabwe demanding that the SRC lift the suspension of the Zifa board, but the SRC is steadfast that it will not lift the suspension.
“We engaged Fifa since 2019 on the happenings in our local game and after we suspended the Zifa board (in November last year), we also engaged them and asked for us to first agree on the roadmap that we thought would help to cleanse our local football.
“But they were rushing us to engage the suspended Zifa board before we even agreed on the roadmap and we will not continue to be treated like that,” Mlotshwa said.
“Fifa have continuously treated us and our laws as nonsense and the issue of the third party interference is not correctly interpreted because when government or individuals finance their sporting teams to participate in tournaments, Fifa says nothing about interference but when we try to hold the sporting boards accountable on how they use the funds then it becomes interference for Fifa,” he said.
SRC board member Nigel Munyati concurred with Mlotshwa and added that Fifa treats member associations differently.
“We will not be bullied to reinstate them. Fifa treats us differently from other members and l think it’s high time they treat us with respect. They should know that corruption in football started in Zurich [Switzerland], especially during the time of Sepp Blatter, and for us, we have the right to deal with issues that are affecting our football,” Munyati said.
Mlotshwa said that the SRC will wait for the courts to finalise on the matters that are before them.
“Most of the things that they are asking us to reverse such as the uplifting of Zifa board suspension is now beyond our control because the suspended board approached the Administrative Court challenging their suspensions and some of the issues such as the sexual harassment accusations are still under police investigations.
“So we can’t ask for the courts or the police to stop doing their constitutional mandates to please Fifa. It’s beyond our control and we can’t do anything about it, but we will allow the due process to take its course.”
He accused the suspended Zifa board members of being unco-operative, which led the SRC to come up with the drastic measures.
“The suspended Zifa board was very unco-operative since day one to our demands and inquiry, they kept giving us empty promises whenever we tried to engage them on the issues that were being raised that include allegations of corruption and sexual harassment.
“They left us with no option, but to suspend them. We needed to stamp our authority and to show other small sporting boards that we are serious about what we are doing.”
Mlotshwa added that the extra-ordinary general meeting that is likely to be held next month could shape the future of the game in the country.
“We will decide when we can rejoin Fifa, but for now what is important is that we will continue to financially-support our Zifa secretariat for them to fulfill their mandate as we did during the Africa Cup of Nations Cup tournament.
“For now, let’s pretend that Fifa and Confederation of African Football (Caf) do not exist and focus on what needs to be done to address issues that are affecting our local football.
“We should all understand and accept that restructuring Zimbabwe football is not subject to what Fifa or Caf wants us to do, but what is important is what Zimbabweans want.
“We will continue to ensure that our local games continue and the decision to rejoin Fifa will be made in due course, but mainly will be guided by the outcome of the Zifa extraordinary general meeting,” Mhlotswa said.
The Warriors are likely to lose out on the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals, with the draw for the qualifiers likely to be conducted before the Zifa-Fifa rift has been resolved.
The qualifiers are set to start in May.