With less than twenty-one days before the AFCON kicks of in Cameroon, one of the participants, Zimbabwe is on the cusp of getting banned by the World’s football governing body, FIFA, unless the elected FA regains control of the sport by 3 January.
The Zimbabwe FA (Zifa) board was last month suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), a body mandated to see to the development of sport by the government in the country.
FIFA disapproves of governmental interference in the running of member associations and has banned countries from all forms of football as a result in the past.
The football body warned in its letter dated December 21, 2021 that sanctions may have to be imposed on Zifa.
“Appropriate sanctions may have to be imposed on Zifa,”
“In such a case, all of Zimbabwean football would suffer the consequences, especially on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations.”
“It is up to Fifa alone to remove executive bodies of member associations and appoint normalisation committees.”
The warning puts Zimbabwe’s participation in next month’s Africa Cup of Nations, which runs from 9 January to 6 February in Cameroon, into doubt.
The SRC meanwhile, informed FIFA last week that it had appointed a nine-member “restructuring committee” which could be in place until December 2022.
SRC chair Gerald Mlotshwa has previously said his organisation is willing to risk a ban if that is what is required to clean up Zimbabwean football.
The reasons given for the SRC’s intervention include mismanagement and lack of accountability by Zifa in its use of public funds as well as alleged sexual harassment of female referees.
“If we are suspended from AFCON, we are prepared for that – that is fine,” Mlotshwa said in mid-November. “Zimbabwean football needs this opportunity just to fix itself.”
Should it happen that SRC does not relinquish control by January 2 2022, Group B at next month’s Nations Cup could feature three teams – Guinea, Malawi and Senegal – should Zimbabwe be banned.