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FIFA Tells SRC To Reverse ZIFA Board Suspension, Threatens Sanctions

FIFA Tells SRC To Reverse ZIFA Board Suspension, Threatens Sanctions

FIFA has ordered the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), to reverse its decision to suspend the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) board before 3 January at the latest.

The SRC suspended the Felton Kamambo-led board on 16 November on several charges, chief among them failure to account for public funds.

In a letter dated 21 December 2021 and addressed to ZIFA General Secretary, Joseph Mamutse, FIFA Chief Member Association Officer Kenny Jean-Marie said the SRC made the decision based on mere allegations without proof.

FIFA has therefore demanded that the SRC overturn the suspension of the ZIFA board or face sanctions. Pindula News is publishing the letter to below:

We refer to the chain of events reported to our services in the past few weeks regarding the situation of ZIFA.

In particular, we took note that, on 16 November 2021, the Sports & Recreation Commission (SRC) decided to suspend the ZIFA executive committee in view of “several incidences of gross incompetence (—) being contrary to the national interest” as per the Sports & Recreation Act. The SRC most specifically alluded to the alleged:

  • mismanagement and lack of accountability by ZIFA in its use of public funds,
  • decisions of ZIFA on national teams travel in the absence of the SRC’s Covid-19 clearances
  • report of sexual harassment of female referees by some ZIFA technical staff which apparently was not dealt with by the relevant ZIFA bodies;
  • failure by ZIFA to address gender imbalances between female and male national teams,
  • failure by ZIFA to develop football at grassroots/junior level in the country,
  • imminent crisis – relating to the ZIFA statutes – nearing the upcoming ZIFA elections

We further observed that, on 1 December 2021, the ZIFA executive committee appealed the said decision before the Administrative Court in Zimbabwe.

We understand that this situation is similar to a suspension imposed by the SRC on the ZIFA general secretary on 26 November 2020 (d.our letter dated 30 December 2020 on the said suspension), which was appealed before the Administrative Court in Zimbabwe on 3 December 2020. In this respect, we are not aware of any final decision which may have been taken.

Furthermore, we would like to highlight that FIFA and the SRC exchanged on a couple of occasions by phone and videoconference call in order  (i) for the former to fully grasp the background facts and consequences of the suspension imposed by the latter on the ZIFA executive committee, and (II) to work together towards a swift and positive outcome to the presented situation.

Accordingly, it was agreed with the SRC during the aforementioned discussions that a draft roadmap for 2022 would be shared with ZIFA for implementation, including the resolution of the most urgent issues mentioned above, with close monitoring by FIFA.

As a matter of fact, on 14 December 2021, a Zoom meeting was to take place with the ZIFA President and the SRC chairperson in order to finalise the relevant roadmap. In return, the SRC was to lift the suspension on ZIFA executive committee.

Eventually, we took note that the SRC chairperson declined to participate in the relevant final meeting and stated that the draft roadmap presented by FIFA was inadequate as it could allegedly not be implemented in practice by the ZIFA executive committee members who shall remain suspended.

Instead, on 17 December 2021, the SRC informed FIFA that it had appointed a “restructuring committee” composed of 9 members, which tenure would end by no later than 31 December 2022.

As a whole, we would like to stress that we are seriously concerned about the state of the relationship between ZIFA and the SRC for the past couple of years.

As mentioned in our correspondence of 29 August 2019, FIFA encourages close cooperative relations between its member associations and the respective national governmental authorities.

FIFA also expects its member associations to be fully accountable for and, if required, to submit to the said authorities all relevant information regarding the use of public funds, as per the relevant national legislation.

FIFA additionally supports regular reporting by its member associations to the said governmental authorities and the appropriate guidance from the latter.

Furthermore, FIFA has a zero-tolerance policy to any form of corruption as well as sexual abuses of any sort in football.

This being said, we must take this opportunity to remind all parties about the contents of art. 14 par. 1 let. 1) and of art. 19 par. 1 of the FIFA Statutes, which stipulate that all FIFA member associations including ZIFA – are obliged to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence from third parties. Any failure to these obligations may lead to sanctions provided for in the FIFA Statutes, even if the third-party influence was not the fault of the member association concerned (cf. art. 14 par 3 of the FIFA Statutes).

In this context, we consider that the aforementioned decisions by the SRC to suspend all the ZIFA executive committee members based on mere allegations without proof of a final and binding […] and subsequently to appoint a “restructuring committee” in lieu of the ZIFA executive committee [… ] to be clearly contrary to the above statutory principles.

As a consequence, should such [… ]be considered by FIFA to constitute undue third-party interference in the internal affairs of ZIFA, the appropriate sanctions may have to be imposed on ZIFA by the competent FIFA body.

In such a case, all Zimbabwean football would suffer the consequences, especially on the eve of the AFCON 2021.

In addition, we would like to highlight that it is up to FIFA alone on the basis of serious and well-founded information as well as under exceptional circumstances to remove executive bodies of member associations and appoint normalisation committees (cf. art. 8 par 2 of FIFA Statutes).

Therefore, we kindly ask you to inform the SRC that in the event its decisions to suspend the ZIFA executive committee members and to appoint a “restructuring committee” instead are not reversed before 3 January 2022 at the latest, we would have no other choice but to submit the present matter to the Bureau of FIFA Council for consideration and decision

Without prejudice to the above, we would like to highlight that FIFA is committed to investigating the aforesaid allegations brought forward by the SRC as soon as the latter has shared with our independent Judicial bodies ( all relevant documentation brought before ordinary courts in Zimbabwe and for which we understand no decision has been taken by these courts to date

We thank you for taking note of the above.

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