Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE ZIFA board will approach the Administrative Court today to challenge the decision by the Sports and Recreation Commission to suspend their chief executive, Joseph Mamutse.
The association’s lawyer, Chenaimoyo Gumiro, said they had given the Sports Commission a 24-hour ultimatum on Tuesday to reverse their decision to suspend Mamutse.
However, after getting no response from the SRC, ZIFA decided to take the matter up with the Administrative Court to challenge the legality of the move.
Mamutse was suspended last week, along with SRC director-general, Prince Mupazviriho, to pave way for investigations into how national football teams were cleared for foreign trips.
The SRC board believe most of these clearances flouted the laid-down procedures in this delicate period of Covid-19.
“Basically, ZIFA wrote a letter to the SRC on Tuesday demanding a retraction of the decision to suspend the chief executive officer of the association,’’ Gumiro told The Herald.
“We pointed out to them that the decision could not have been arrived at procedurally and we gave them 24 hours to respond.
“But after getting no joy, we decided to act on the options available to us. So, we are taking up the matter with the Administrative Court.
“We want the court to determine whether what SRC did was legal or not.
“Did they follow the SRC Act in arriving at the decision? We are convinced they didn’t.
“They are departing from the football statutes, which say the sport should be free from third-party interference, that is why we are going to court.
“We didn’t want to take that route and that is why we wrote to them first. They are clearly contravening the statutes.’’
Gumiro said the other available option was to approach FIFA but they chose not to pursue that, for the moment, because of its possible grim consequences.
“We also took into consideration that this (approaching FIFA) could attract severe punishment, including a ban from football,’’ he said.
“And, this would disrupt our teams taking part in the CHAN tournament, the AFCON and World Cup qualifiers as well as FC Platinum, who are participating in the Champions League.’’
The Sports Commission, however, have maintained that public office bearers, like those in charge of ZIFA, should be held accountable for their actions.
The SRC say they cannot just watch from a distance with folded arms when the health of players and officials are put at risk by actions of those entrusted with ensuring they operatein a safe environment. The country’s sports regulator were also incensed by the embarrassing disqualification of the Young Warriors, from the COSAFA tournament in South Africa, for allegedly fielding over-aged players.
Neither party, it appears, is ready to budge in what has been a bruising boardroom battle. The SRC say their investigations of the association will not be stopped and those found to have erred will have to face the consequences.
Yesterday, the Zimbabwe National Supporters Association also added their voice to the ugly stand-off as they urged ZIFA and the SRC to try and find each other for the good of the game.
“ZNSSA has noted, with concern, the unnecessary tension between the football mother body ZIFA and the regulator, Sport Commission,” said the organisation’s patron, Eddie “Mboma” Nyatanga, in a statement yesterday.
“We have also seen press statement from the SRC, indicating that ZIFA chief executive officer, Mr Joseph Mamutse, was suspended for flouting regulations of the SRC.
“While we respect the SRC, as a regulator, we think it is overstepping on its mandate and this has negative consequences for our beautiful game.
“It is clear, from our understanding of FIFA statutes, that FIFA will view this as government interference and suspend our lovely country from being a member of the global football.
“This means that our CHAN team, which is supposed to participate at the CHAN tournament in Cameroon in January 2021, will be disqualified.
“Our representatives in the Champions League, FC Platinum, could also be forced to pull out.
“Our country will be removed from participating in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers and 2022 FIFA World Cup.’’
Nyatanga said the consequences of the impasse, between the two organisations, were too grim to imagine.
“ZIFA will be blocked from transferring players to foreign lands,’’ he said in his statement.
“In simple terms, football will be non-existent in Zimbabwe and the SRC, itself, will also be rendered useless since it also survives on regulating such organisations like ZIFA and the levies which they pay.
“We appeal to our Minister of Sport, Honourable Kirsty Coventry, to take charge and avoid what appears to be imminent embarrassment for our country.
“We don’t want this unnecessary tension, and wanton suspension of football officials by the SRC, which could in turn lead to FIFA ban.
“We, the supporters, are owners of the game, not those who run it, and we are gravely concerned by the current state of affairs.’’
He said local football fans, who have spent a year without going to watch their favourite game, were now concerned whether this could turn into years.
“We can’t be starved of football, at the end of the day it’s not about (ZIFA president, Felton) Kamambo or (SRC board chairman, Gerald) Mlotshwa’s children who will suffer.
“The SRC should consider the number of players we export every year, what are we saying to those players who have pending deals?
“The Minister has to call everyone to order before things go out of hand.
“FIFA will not tolerate third-part interference and, for SRC to say they don’t care about the consequences, is tantamount to saying they don’t care about our football.’’
Nyatanga said the two parties had the capacity to find each other and deal with the challenges which have seen them drifting apart in the past few weeks.