WHEN two elephants fight, it is always the grass that suffers!
The raging feud pitting the country’s sports regulatory body, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC), on one hand, and the football mother body, ZIFA on the other might end up affecting young men and women who have never set foot in the boardrooms where these decisions are being made.
Apart from the senior men’s national team missing out on the 2022 Cameroon Africa Cup of Nations if ZIFA is suspended from the global football family, dreams of being selected to handle the continental showpiece for local match officials will also be shattered.
One of the brightest prospects for Zimbabwe match officiating is Rusape-based referee, Brighton Chimene, who, no doubt, could be the next big thing for Zimbabwean football as far as match officiating is concerned.
Judging by his performance in recent years, Chimene has impressively handled international assignments, and hopes are high that he could become the second match official to handle a World Cup match after retired match official, Brighton Mudzamiri.
But Chimene might watch in agony as his dreams of making a huge leap in his career by officiating at the Africa Cup of Nations — if selected — disappear like morning dew.
Zimbabwean football descended into new low depths after the SRC suspended the Felton Kamambo-led ZIFA board, risking FIFA sanctions in the process.
The move came after Zimbabwe’s disastrous 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign in which the Warriors were winless in six Group G matches against Ghana, South Africa and Ethiopia.
The SRC said it took the decision “following several incidences of gross incompetence on the part of ZIFA, such conduct and/or omissions being contrary to the national interests.”
It cited ZIFA’s failure to account for public funds provided during the last Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2019.
Zimbabwe is due to take part in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations finals which get underway on January 9 in Cameroon, and the move by the SRC could threaten the country’s participation.
The SRC has previously suspended the Zimbabwe Cricket board, earning the country a ban from the International Cricket Council.
Lessons from other African football playing nations are fresh in the minds of many followers of the game.
After failing to qualify, the Kenyan government also suspended the football federation.
The Kenyan government appointed a caretaker committee to run the affairs of Football Kenya Federation (FKF), but FIFA responded by saying it did not recognise the committee.
“All FIFA member associations, including the FKF, are statutorily required to manage their affairs independently and without undue influence of any third parties,” FIFA chief member association officer, Kenny Jean-Marie wrote to the Kenyan government.
“Any failure to these obligations may lead to sanctions provided for in the FIFA statutes, even if the third party influence was not the fault of the member association concerned.”
FIFA said the actions of the Kenyan cabinet secretary who announced the suspension of the board was “undoubtedly contrary to the above principles” and warned “it could lead to a ban imposed on the FKF by the competent FIFA body.”
FIFA suspended Chad from its competitions earlier this year citing government interference after authorities established their own national committee to manage the football federation’s affairs.
The suspension was only lifted in October after the government relented.