Zimbabwe’s national women’s football team refused to play against Zambia in the second leg of their 2020 CAF Women’s Olympic qualifier in Harare on Sunday due to a dispute over pending allowances.
The players claim they are owed allowances from last month’s COSAFA Championship in South Africa in which they finished third.
The game was cancelled half an hour before kickoff after the Zimbabwe Football Association failed in its attempt to field a club team in place of the national team. Four teams had withdrawn their players from the national team camp on Saturday.
Zimbabwe were defeated 5-0 in the first leg in Lusaka having traveled by road to play a match they did not train for.
The Zimbabwe FA accused the players for breach of contract, and requested world football’s governing body, FIFA, to push the game to Monday morning. However, Zambia argued that they would already be returning home by that time.
“We agreed with the clubs that we would pay the players $150 each for the two games, but unfortunately this agreement has been breached,” said ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela.
Zimbabwe’s actions may result in disciplinary action from FIFA following a similar incident before the last Olympic Games.
Zimbabwe was sanctioned by FIFA in 2015 after failing to show up for a qualifying match against Côte d’Ivoire for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee awarded the match 3-0 to Côte d’Ivoire and fined the Zimbabwe FA 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,000).
Zimbabwe, despite serious financial problems, managed to qualify for the tournament eventually after defeating Cameroon in their final Olympic qualifier.