Government respects Fifa’s decision Minister Kirsty Coventry

Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter

THE Government has welcomed the decision by Fifa not to dissolve the entire Zifa board and replace it with a normalisation committee in line with recommendations from the Sports and Recreation Commission.

The Minister of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, in a brief interview with Chronicle Sport in Bulawayo yesterday where she was touring various arts centres in the city, said the letter by Fifa actually showed that the world football motherbody was prepared to work with relevant bodies including Zifa to move the local game forward.

“That is a step in the right direction,” said Minister Coventry.

“The thing that I took from the Fifa letter was that they are willing to work with Zifa, willing to work with the SRC, willing to work with the Government and for me I think that was very positive because I think they understand that there is work that needs to be done. Even though they are not putting in the normalisation committee, they have said that they are working with Zifa, they want to work with us in terms of moving soccer forward and that is a step in the right direction”.

The SRC, through its chairman Gerald Mlotshwa, had written to Fifa earlier this month requesting Zurich to dissolve the entire Felton Kamambo-led Zifa executive committee in terms of Article (8) (2) of the General Provisions of the Fifa Statutes.

The Sports Commission believed that 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.

However, Fifa, through their deputy secretary general (administration), Alasdair Bell, on Thursday 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.

‘‘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”.

Fifa said they were seized with debt extinguishing measures for 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.’’

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