Zimbabwe’s Africa Cup of Nations finals participation is in jeopardy after FIFA warned last month it would impose swift sanctions over what it said was government interference in the suspension of the ZIFA board led by Felton Kamambo.
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), a statutory body, suspended the Kamambo executive on November 16 accusing it of corruption. It also named a “restructuring committee” to run ZIFA’s affairs, but FIFA has refused to recognise it.
FIFA maintains that “it is up to FIFA alone, on the basis of serious and well-founded information as well as under special circumstances, to remove executive bodies of member associations and appoint normalisation committees.”
Zimbabwe had until January 3 to reinstate the Kamambo board, short of which “all of Zimbabwean football would suffer the consequences, especially on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations finals,” FIFA warned on December 21.
On Sunday, there was no sign that the SRC headed by President Emmerson Mnanagwa’s son-in-law Gerald Mlotshwa would blink. The SRC says FIFA’s ultimatum, sent through ZIFA, was not addressed to them.
The next step, according to FIFA, is “to submit the present matter to the Bureau of FIFA Council for consideration and decision.”
The decision is expected to be made swiftly, before Zimbabwe’s opening match with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations finals being hosted by Cameroon.
The Warriors are already in Cameroon and a FIFA suspension will carry dire consequences.
Apart from getting kicked out from Cameroon, Zimbabwe’s women’s team – currently a match away from qualifying for their own Africa Cup of Nations finals – could be eliminated from the competition. Local clubs would also be barred from the Champions League and Confederations Cup. Zimbabwean referees will also not be considered for international matches and FIFA will withhold an annual grant which remains ZIFA’s main source of funding.