Senior Sports Editor
THE Sports and Recreation Commission have said they will not be bullied by threats of FIFA sanctions, to force them to compromise their mission, to deal with issues they believe are holding back the development of domestic football.
The world football governing body have always flexed their muscles, when they believe there is third-party interference, in the governing of national football associations.
The cocktail of sanctions include the suspension of that country’s national football teams, from taking part in football tournaments around the world, which are all sanctioned by FIFA.
But, in a statement last night, the SRC board said they believe they will get the backing of FIFA, in their mission to try and reposition Zimbabwean football whose progress, they claim, is being held back by a cocktail of challenges, including questionable leadership.
The latest fallout between the SRC and ZIFA has already claimed the scalp of ZIFA chief executive, Joseph Mamutse, who was suspended by the regulatory body, last week, pending investigations into a number of issues.
The SRC director-general, Prince Mupazviriho, was also suspended.
Last year, the SRC board chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa, wrote to FIFA general secretary, Fatma Samoura, requesting for authority to invoke their powers to remove the entire ZIFA leadership from office.
The SRC wanted to replace the ZIFA board, with a normalisation committee, to run domestic football for a specified period.
In their response, FIFA, through their deputy secretary-general (administration), Alasdair Bell, advised the SRC the conditions prevailing at ZIFA then did not warrant an intervention that would see the board being disbanded, and replaced, by a normalisation committee.
Bell said while FIFA always expected bodies like ZIFA to be fully accountable and, if required, submit to the authorities all relevant information regarding the use of public funds, they didn’t believe there was need for the removal of Felton Kamambo’s ZIFA leadership.
Should the ZIFA leadership be replaced by an interim committee, at the instigation of the SRC and the Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Ministry, FIFA said that would be deemed to be interference in the affairs of the association.
‘‘In this context, we must remind you about the contents of Art. 14 par. 1 let. (i) and Art. 19 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes, which stipulate that all member associations are obliged to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties,’’ Bell wrote.
‘‘Therefore, should the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts & Recreation of Zimbabwe, upon recommendation of the Sports and Recreation Committee (SRC), decide to appoint an interim committee to administer the affairs of ZIFA, it would be considered undue influence in the sense of the FIFA Statutes.
‘‘Consequently, the matter would be presented to the relevant FIFA bodies for consideration, and possible action, which may include the suspension of ZIFA.
However, in the wake of the latest fallout between ZIFA and the SRC, the country’s sports regulators say they will not be bullied, into submission, from pursuing their mission to try and reposition Zimbabwean football because of fear FIFA could possibly react with a cocktail of sanctions.
This followed reports ZIFA had already approached FIFA to provide them with a protective shield.
“While cognisant of the possible consequences of our resolve, Zimbabwe cannot compromise its sport development efforts for fear of FIFA retribution,’’ the SRC board said in their statement.
“That would be unprincipled, of us, as a nation.
“We appreciate the interests of International Sporting Federations in seeing orderly administration.
“However, this cannot be used against our need to hold accountable, Zimbabwean sport administrators, to their mandate that carries a premium on effective, efficient and transparent management.
“To this end, the Board of Commissioners of the SRC shall proffer solutions as accorded by the SRC Act.
“This will ensure the return of sanity, accountability, transparency and good football administration, hopefully, with the support of FIFA, whom we trust share our interest in seeing a properly administered ZIFA that acts in the best interest of athletes, the public and the nation at large.
“As SRC, we believe that there is no better time to address these issues and we are confident that Zimbabweans will rally behind us as we strive to redress the rot that has sullied our beautiful game.
“This resolve is evident in the SRC even going to the extent of suspending its own director-general, pending investigation into the management of recent events.
“The adherence to national laws, policies, guidelines, Association and Club constitutions, and other regulations by all those charged with responsibility for administering sport in Zimbabwe, is paramount, and there are no sacred cows.
“The Commission will follow all due process and allow an independent investigative process to be conducted. Anyone hindering, or making light of these investigations, will be accounted for accordingly.’’
The SRC board said they were clear on what Zimbabwean football requires for it to punch according to its weight, something they feel it hasn’t been doing with standards plummeting and sponsors fleeing.
“A key component of the Sports and Recreation Commission’s mission is to ensure the proper governance’, and administration of Sports by National Sport Associations — ZIFA included,’’ read the SRC statement.
“Towards this end, the SRC remains resolute in its decision, and shall not be deterred from achieving its objectives:
- It is in this regard that the SRC Board has been obligated to take the actions it has undertaken with regard to ZIFA and its own director-general.
- That the quality of football in Zimbabwe has deteriorated is without question, and this is primarily due to poor administration at both Association and Club levels. This has primarily been due to a culture of football administration that is comfortable with sub-standard performance, malpractice and atrocious governance, which has had a negative effect on the country’s ability to succeed in regional, continental and international competitions.
2.1. Due to poor governance, and a soiled image, corporate sponsorship has flown the football coop, a situation that cannot and shall not be allowed to continue.
2.2. Grassroots football, and football development in general is woeful, the consequence of which is that aspiring talent has suffered due to limited development pathways and career opportunities.
◆ The SRC is committed to ensuring that athletes and officials are accorded suitable platforms to reach their full potential and are treated with dignity and respect.
2.3. Association administration failures and scandals that bedevil our national teams should be stemmed immediately, and the Sports and Recreation Commission is committed to adequately correcting the problems at ZIFA.
◆ “Our national pride, and identity and attractiveness as a tourism and investment destination depend on how Zimbabwe is represented internationally.
“The negative publicity and apparent disorganisation, that is synonymous with our national football teams, shall not be allowed to frustrate these efforts.’’
ZIFA have already claimed they have lost trust in the SRC, in particular their board chairman Mlotshwa, and have appealed for mediation from Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry.