Kirsty Coventry: We Don't Want FIFA To Lift The Suspension
Zimbabwe’s Sports Minister, Kirsty Coventry, sparked controversy in Parliament after she announced that her Ministry does not want FIFA to lift the suspension on Zimbabwe until “we’ve cleaned up ourselves.”
Zimbabwe was suspended in February 2022 after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended the ZIFA board headed by Felton Kamambo over alleged maladministration and sexual abuse of female referees.
FIFA said the suspension of the Felton Kamambo-led board constituted government interference with the sport.
The ban on Zimbabwe can only be lifted when the Felton Kamambo-led board has been reinstated, FIFA declared. Addressing Parliamentarians recently, the Olympics champion said:
We accepted that (suspension). We have never asked them for them to lift. We don’t want it lifted at this point until we have cleared and cleaned up ourselves.
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Some parliamentarians shouted saying that was a disservice and she responded:
Disservice to who?
Being banned from FIFA means:
Loss of funding: FIFA provides funding to its member associations to develop football in their respective countries. Being banned from FIFA can result in a significant loss of funding for the country’s football development programs.
Inability to participate in international competitions: A ban from FIFA means that a country’s national team cannot participate in international tournaments such as the World Cup, regional championships like AFCON, or friendly matches against other countries.
Players failing to get noticed: Players are often scouted at international competitions. Without the ability to participate in international tournaments, they won’t be exposed to scouts.
Impact on the local football industry: Football is a major industry in many countries, with significant economic benefits and the ban can result in a decline in revenue for clubs, stadiums, and related businesses.
Political and social ramifications: The ban can be seen as a reflection of a country’s governance and may have wider implications for the country’s international relations.
Several stakeholders including football players have voiced concern over the suspension.
Warriors midfielder Marshall Munetsi recently urged the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and Zimbabwe Football Association(ZIFA) to find common ground for the country to play international football.
Minister Coventry’s remarks echo sentiments by the GeraldMlotshwa-led SRC which insists getting the FIFA ban lifted is not a priority.
The SRC says there are “more pressing issues” which need to be solved to restore sanity to Zimbabwean football.