Zimbabwe Not in a Hurry to Get FIFA Suspension Lifted – Zifa and SRC Say Ready to Face Off With World Football Governing Body for a Lifetime

ZIMBABWE Football Association (ZIFA) and Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) have indicated that they are in no hurry to get the country’s FIFA suspension lifted.

Mlotshwa, who was presenting ZIFA’s forensic audit, Thursday, said lifting of the suspension was not their priority, adding that they were prepared to face-off with FIFA even if it meant extending the fight to beyond a lifetime.

Zimbabwe was suspended in February after the Mlotshwa led SRC sacked the then ZIFA president Felton Kamambo alongside his board members that include Philemon Machana and Joseph Mamutse.

Mlotshwa’s sentiments, supported by ZIFA president Gift Banda who was also present, come at a time calls for Zimbabwe to be re-admitted into the football mother body’s fold have grown.

Players and administrators have joined in the push for re-admission which, according to FIFA, is premised on re-appointment of the Kamambo led ZIFA executive committee.

“The lifting of the suspension is not a priority, let us get that out of our heads, our priority is the process to clean up our football,” said Mlotshwa.

“We are not in a rush at this point in time to go to FIFA and say lift the suspension. They will ask us whether we have cured all the things we gave as reasons when we suspended the ZIFA board, we are not there yet.

ZIFA president Gift Banda

“When you restructure or implement reforms, that is not an overnight process, that process has already started and it started when we suspended the executive committee and it is an ongoing one with certain milestones.

“I will tell you that the reform process does not stop, you are continuously developing yourself, FIFA itself has already said we are underwriting this. DO not misunderstand this however as an indication that FIFA will then automatically lift the suspension.

“ZIFA will approach FIFA and formally ask for lifting of that suspension when we feel that we are ready to do so. This will be an ongoing process and might even outlive you.”

Zimbabwe has, since the suspension, missed out on the COSAFA Cup finals, AFCON and World Cup qualifiers while clubs were not included in the 2022 and next year’s African Safaris.

“We are in agreement with the SRC that the football in Zimbabwe has to be cleaned, if you look at where our football is I am sure you are not proud of it,” said Banda.

“The support base of our biggest teams in the country is dwindling, even when they are playing against each other. We have to start from somewhere, we have agreed with the SRC that we need to start now, this is a window of opportunity.

“I hear quite a lot of people always getting worried about when we are getting back to membership of FIFA, CAF and COSAFA but I say allow the process to unfold, allow us to clean our football so that when we return back to football we will be better.”

Kenya, which was suspended at around the same time as Zimbabwe has been re-admitted by FIFA after its government withdrew its decision to suspend football federation officials in hopes of ‘cleaning the football mess there.’

Asked about effects of the ban on upcoming footballers who could be missing out on opportunities to export their talent, Mlotshwa added: “There is a certain amount of loss to the age-group players but I think where we are and where we are headed that prejudice will have a limited lifespan. No pain no gain, at least the pain here is short term.

“Not everyone will be happy, some people will be prejudiced but for the greater good that is the decision we have made and it is a decision that will have long term benefits.”

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