Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
FIFA have turned down a request from the Sport and Recreation Commission to use their power to remove the entire ZIFA leadership from office and replace it with a normalisation committee to run domestic football for a specified period.
FIFA said while they expect 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. And, it could result in ZIFA’s suspension from FIFA, with the country’s national teams barred from international competitions.
The SRC said they had noted FIFA’s response and an appropriate response would have given.
‘‘FIFA response is noted. SRC and related agencies will tender appropriate responses shortly re – allegations relating to public funds and flouting of laws,’’ the SRC said on their Twitter account.
Article (8) (2) of the General Provisions of the FIFA Statutes empower the world football governing body to act and remove national football controlling bodies and replace them with normalisation committees.
‘‘Executive bodies of member associations may, under exceptional circumstances, be removed from office by the (FIFA) Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time.’’
But, FIFA turned down the request by the SRC in a letter sent earlier this month, to replace the entire ZIFA board with a normalisation committee.
Some of the principal figures on the ZIFA board are acting vice-president, Philemon Machana, and executive committee members, Farai Jere, the Premier Soccer League chairman, Sugar Chagonda, Bryton Malandule and Barbra Chikosi, the women football boss. Apparently, the SRC request also coincided with a visit to this country by FIFA central review auditors who were looking at the ZIFA financial transactions.
SRC chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa, announced two weeks ago that, although they had the authority to remove part, or the entire ZIFA leadership from office, they had written to FIFA to provide the intervention by replacing the board led by Kamambo which came into power last December.
‘‘The SRC has, of today, this 15th August 2019, written to the Secretary-General of FIFA requesting that FIFA invoke Article (8) (2) of the General Provisions of the FIFA Statutes to remove from office the entire Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) Board and to replace it with a normalisation committee,’’ Mlotshwa’s statement read.
‘‘The SRC has reserved its right, in terms of the same correspondence, to act in terms of Section 30 of the SRC Act and suspend the entire board itself.’’
The Sports Commission believed according to Section 30 (1) (c) of the Sports and Recreation Act, ZIFA had conducted itself in a manner which was against the national interest of sport.
This was related to FIFA funds, which have been pumped into ZIFA for the development of the game, the controversies related to the Warriors’ at the last AFCON finals and the negativity that continues to stalk the Mighty Warriors.
The Sports Commission also felt they were not given the responses they required from ZIFA to explain how funds from FIFA could have ended changing bank accounts and if such a conduct did not consist, on face value, gross incompetence in the discharge of duties for such a national association.
They had written to ZIFA on July 3 this year requesting that they be provided with comprehensive answers to a number of allegations that had emerged and the association, in response, asked for an extension of the deadline and then didn’t supply the required information.
However, FIFA, through their deputy secretary general (administration), Alasdair Bell, yesterday advised the Sports Commission the conditions prevailing at ZIFA did not warrant an intervention that would see the board being disbanded and replaced by a normalisation committee.
The letter was written to Mlotshwa and copied to CAF and ZIFA.
‘‘We refer to your letter dated 14 August 2019, through which you requested FIFA to appoint a normalisation committee for the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA), namely because of allegations of financial mismanagement,’’ Bell wrote.
‘‘At the outset we would like to underline that FIFA encourages close cooperative relations between its member associations and national governments.
‘‘In addition, we expect our member associations to be fully accountable for and, if required, submit to the authorities all relevant information regarding the use of public funds, if any are provided, in line with the pertinent national legislation.
‘‘Regarding funding provided by FIFA, we would like to inform you that every member association receiving FIFA Forward development funds, including ZIFA, is subject to rigorous controls in the use of these funds.
‘‘This includes an annual central audit review which is undertaken by an independent professional auditor appointed by FIFA. Adverse findings noted by the auditors are reported to the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee and may result in a restriction or even suspension of funding.
‘‘Furthermore, in the event of any suspicion of the misuse of funds, the matter is referred to the competent FIFA judicial body. As a consequence of the above, we deem that the conditions for setting up a normalisation committee for ZIFA in line with Art. 8 par. 2 of the FIFA Statutes are not fulfilled.’’
FIFA said they expect ZIFA to manage their affairs independent of third parties.
‘‘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.
‘‘Finally, we would like to inform you that FIFA is engaged in assisting ZIFA with its debt servicing strategy. In this regard, we would like to underline that we remain at the authorities’ disposal to discuss, if possible, joint efforts to address ZIFA’s current financial situation.’’