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Zimbabwe's Sports and Recreation Commission hits back at Fifa after suspension

4:22 am AEDT 26/2/22
Zimbabwe Afcon 2022
The interim body said the world-governing body has disregarded issues raised against officials of the disbanded federation

Zimbabwe Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) chairman Gerald Mlothswa has hit back at Fifa following the suspension of the country on Thursday.

The Zurich body suspended both Kenya and Zimbabwe following what it described as government interference, and the government-appointed body has now detailed reasons why it feels their grievances against Felton Kamambo-led Zifa administration were not addressed before the suspension was effected.

"In essence, it appears that Fifa is constrained by the provisions of its own statutes to protect certain of the undoubted sexual predators, fraudsters, and corrupt administrators at the helm of football administration in Zimbabwe," a letter obtained by GOAL and signed by Mlothshwa read.

"All this in the name of shielding Zifa from, to quote Fifa in its letter 'undue interference from a third party'. It is a fact that some of these administrators are facing, inter alia, charges of sexual harassment, bribery, fraud, and general corruption before Zimbabwe’s Courts. Fifa has the full details of these matters.

"It is clear that Fifa has interpreted these very serious charges as ‘mere allegations’, notwithstanding its 'zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, sexual abuse, and any other unethical conduct'.

"Both Fifa and Caf are fully aware of an insidious culture of sexual harassment perpetrated against female football referees in Zimbabwe. Eighteen months have elapsed since these allegations were brought to their respective attention, and nobody has initiated any tangible investigation focused on the culprits whose names are known to them.

"The instances of fraud and corruption within the corridors of Zifa have also been brought to the attention of Fifa, who have placed on record their extreme reluctance to involve themselves in remedying this deplorable state of affairs.

"The SRC has a documented and demonstrable 'zero-tolerance policy towards corruption, sexual abuse and any other unethical conduct in the administration of sport in Zimbabwe. It does not pay mere lip service to the same."

The commission added they will continue discharging their mandate regardless of the suspension since Fifa's statutes are not part of their domestic laws.

"We, at the SRC, act decisively within the confines of the laws of Zimbabwe, in particular the Sports and Recreation Commission Act as well as the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act," the letter added.

"Fifa statutes are not a part of the laws of Zimbabwe. Conversely, Zifa, and indeed all other national sports associations in the country, are subject to the laws of Zimbabwe. It is for this reason that they, and their respective constitutions, are registered with the SRC."