Zimbabwe: FIFA Congress Seal Zifa's Fate

Zimbabwe: FIFA Congress Seal Zifa's Fate

THE FIFA Congress yesterday voted in favour of Zimbabwe’s suspension from the world football family with 199 of the 201 members present assenting to the decision.

The global football indaba confirmed the suspension of three members that included ZIFA, Kenya Football Federation and the Pakistan Football Federation via a majority vote.

Zimbabwe were not represented at the gathering as the domestic football leadership, fronted by Felton Kamambo, is currently suspended by the Sports and Recreation Commission.

Kamambo and some senior ZIFA officials that include Board Member Finance, Philemon Machana, and chief executive officer, Joseph Mamutse, are also not able to travel outside the country at the moment.

The trio were ordered by the Magistrates Court to surrender their passports as part of the bail conditions in the ongoing legal case where they are facing fraud charges.

The suspended ZIFA officials, who were expected back in court yesterday, were also barred by the courts to take part in any football activities on behalf of ZIFA. Their application for a waiver this week was turned down by Harare regional magistrate, Stanford Mambanje.

FIFA yesterday at their Congress in Doha, Qatar, still went ahead with the vote as 210 members were able to join in the Congress physically and online, with only Zimbabwe conspicuous by their absence.

The vote by the delegates at the FIFA Congress also exposed the misrepresentations made by the ZIFA officials when they approached the courts to get temporary release of their passports.

The ZIFA bosses told the courts that they temporarily wanted their passports back to enable them to travel to the Qatari capital Doha, where they claimed they had wanted to press the FIFA Congress from confirming the country’s suspension from all forms of international football.

They also claimed that Zimbabwe risked facing a “fully-fledged ban” yet the Congress was only ratifying a decision that was taken on their behalf by the FIFA Council, the organisation’s highest decision-making body outside Congress, on February 24.

Zimbabwe’s fate was sealed when the FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, moved the motion to confirm the decision that was taken by the FIFA Council.

In their desperation the suspended ZIFA Board members even offered to travel with an official from the Sports Commission to try and have the ban lifted. They did not state how they were going to convince all the 210 members of FIFA to vote against Zimbabwe’s suspension.

Kenya and Pakistan, who were facing almost similar circumstances, were also included on the agenda and suffered similar consequences.

Infantino told the delegates that FIFA were not happy with the situation in the three countries and had already prepared motions to endorse the suspensions.

“The FIFA Council suspended ZIFA on February 24 with immediate effect due to third party interference, in particular the takeover of the activities of ZIFA by the so-called the restricting committee appointed by the government after the latter had suspended the executive committee and the general secretary, which constituted a serious violation of the FIFA statutes.

“It is therefore recommended that the Congress confirms the suspension of ZIFA, enabling also the Council to lift the suspension once the pertinent requirements have been fulfilled,” said Infantino.

The issue went to vote and 199 were in favour while two were against. It is most likely that Kenya and Pakistan were the two members that could have voted against Zimbabwe’s suspension.

Kenya were represented virtually at the Congress by the acting president of KFF, Doris Petra.

Apparently Zimbabwe have indicated they embraced the suspension and will use the time to work on the rejuvenation of the game via the independent Restructuring Committee set up by the Sports Commission.

But there have been widespread criticisms against FIFA’s hypocrisy and the selective application of their football statutes.

FIFA have deliberately turned a blind eye on the situation in England where the country’s Football Association announced sanctions on Premiership side Chelsea Football Club as part of the sanctions targeting former club owner, Roman Abramovich, for his links with Russia.

Most of Russia’s influential personalities and businesses have come under international sanctions following Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

Critics have said, if FIFA can ban Zimbabwe, Kenya and Pakistan for “third party interference”, then the English FA should also be banned because their government was also straying into football governance, which should be independent from government politics.

FIFA, who are notoriously known to be unflinching when it comes to “third party interference”, also came out of their lane and found themselves in politics when the Russia-Ukraine stand-off began and imposed sanctions on Russia Football Federation.