THE Sports and Recreation Commission have cracked the whip, suspending ZIFA chief executive, Joseph Mamutse, from all forms of football activities.
The country’s supreme sports regulatory body have also place their director general, Prince Mupazviriho, on suspension.
The move is meant to enable investigations into how a number of national football teams were cleared for foreign assignments, under questionable circumstances, in this Covid-19 environment.
The developments represent a strong reaction from the SRC and will send powerful message that the kind of chaos, which has been stalking national football teams, will not be tolerated.
Earlier this week, the SRC barred the national Under-20 football team, the Young Warriors, from flying to South Africa, to feature at the COSAFA Under-20 tournament. The red flag was raised after the SRC argued ZIFA had not followed the laid-down protocols, to secure such clearance, in this Covid-19 environment.
However, the SRC, in a statement released by their chairman, Gerald Mlotshwa last night, noted “ZIFA’s reported ‘appeal’, that the Sports Ministry has, in writing, advised ZIFA to seek an exemption from the SRC for being non-compliant, in respect of its application for clearance of the Zimbabwe National Under-20 Boys Football Team to participate at the COSAFA Boys Tournament in South Africa.
“Due consideration will be given to any such request for an exemption taking into account the foregoing exigencies — any final authorisation shall be at the instance of the Ministries of Sport and of Health.”
Mlotshwa said the era of lawlessness, in the country’s sporting family, was over and those who were intent on finding ways to circumvent laid-down procedures, including resorting to legal challenges when their shortcomings have been exposed, will be dealt with accordingly.
The suspension of Mamutse, the leading figure within the ZIFA secretariat, is likely to send a powerful message that no one is above the law meant to ensure governance of sport, in this country, should be done within some set of rules to ensure the reputation, of both the nation, and those disciplines, is protected.
The strong action comes just a week after the country’s national Under-17 football team were expelled from the COSAFA Under-17 championships, which also act as qualifiers for the African junior tournament, when they were sucked in an age-cheating saga.
CAF, who run the African junior championships, wielded the axe on Zimbabwe, Botswana, Eswatini and the Comoros after the countries were found to have fielded players who were above the stipulated age limit. The Botswana Football Association reacted to the expulsion of their team by suspending their chief executive, Mfolo Mfolo.
ZIFA insisted the players they sent to represent the country were within the stipulated age limits, and filed an appeal with CAF, against the decision to expel the Young Warriors.
However, according to the statement released by Mlotshwa last night, even the presence of the Young Warriors, at that COSAFA Under-17 tournament, was under a cloud.
The SRC will now investigate how national football teams have, in the past few months, received clearances to represent the country.
The questionable manner of the process is what has forced the SRC to suspend their director-general, Mupazviriho, pending investigations.
“Notwithstanding the clear provisions of the law and related guidelines, policies and directives relating to the undertaking of external tours by football teams representing Zimbabwe, at various age and gender groups under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Football Association, the SRC board notes the persistent flouting of the aforesaid framework in place, with the attendant controversies and embarrassments to the country,” Mlotshwa said in the statement.
“Noting the need to balance the interests of athletes, against the need to hold accountable those administrators responsible for these shortcomings, the board of commissioners of the SRC has resolved as follows:-
The placement of the general-secretary/CEO of ZIFA, Joseph Mamutse, under immediate suspension from all forms of football administration pending an investigation into the circumstances under which:-
1.1 The Zimbabwe National Women’s Football Team left Zimbabwe to participate in a tournament in South Africa without the necessary approval from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation (‘Sports Ministry’) in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (‘Health Ministry’) in light of the Covid-19 regulations and attendant directives thereto;
1.2 Regulations and attendant directives thereto;
1.3 The Zimbabwe National Under-17 Girl’s Football Team left Zimbabwe to participate in a tournament in South Africa, without the necessary approval from the Sports Ministry in conjunction with the Health Ministry, in light of the Covid-19 Regulations and attendant directives thereto;
1.4 The circumstances under which the Zimbabwe National Under-17 Boy’s Football Team left Zimbabwe to participate in a tournament in South Africa, without the necessary approval from the Sports Ministry in conjunction with the Health Ministry, in light of the Covid-19 Regulations and attendant directives thereto;
1.5 The circumstances under which the Zimbabwe National Under-17 Boy’s Football Team was nonetheless disqualified from participating in the said COSAFA tournament on allegations of including overage player(s) in the side.
The placement of the director-general of the Sports & Recreation Commission, Prince Mupazviriho, under immediate suspension pending an investigation into the circumstances under which ‘authority’ was purportedly granted, in retrospect, to the teams set out in 1.1 and 1.2 to travel to South Africa without the knowledge and / or authority of the SRC board as well as the Ministries of Sport and Health, above;
The board of commissioners notes, in light of ZIFA’s reported ‘appeal’, that the Sports Ministry has, in writing, advised ZIFA to seek an exemption from the SRC for being non-compliant, in respect of its application for clearance of the Zimbabwe National Under-20 Boys Football Team to participate at the COSAFA Boys Tournament in South Africa. Due consideration will be given to any such request for an exemption taking into account the foregoing exigencies – any final authorisation shall be at the instance of the Ministries of Sport and of Health.
The adherence to national laws, policies, guidelines, association and club constitutions, and other regulations, including court orders by all those charged with the administration of sport in Zimbabwe is hereby stressed. Those continuing to breach the same without thought for the consequences are hereby forewarned. The end is nigh.
Sebastian Garikai, director of sports and recreation development, shall be the acting director-general of the SRC pending the outcome of the investigations set out in paragraph 2 above.”