Zimbabwe’s Sports ministry suspended the board of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) “following several incidences of gross incompetence on the part of ZIFA”, including alleged sexual harassment of female referees and claims of fraud.
The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) said it received a report of alleged sexual harassment of female referees by the technical staff within ZIFA.
“Despite several requests for the matter to be decisively dealt with, ZIFA did not give the matter adequate attention in view of its gravity,” the statement said.
“Whereas the nation has made significant strides in empowering the girl child to be an active participant in sports, incidences of sexual harassment should be conclusively dealt with to enable a conducive environment for participation by all.”
Alleged mismanagement and lack of accountability in the use of public funds were also “non-exhaustive” reasons given by the SRC.
Additionally, the SRC stated the sending of national teams outside the country without COVID-19 clearances and a failure to invest in grassroots football from FIFA’s development fund as other grievances.
Zimbabwe’s participation in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon in January now hangs in the balance due to potential repercussions from FIFA following the suspension.
FIFA strictly aims to shield its member associations from government interference and the threat of a ban from all football activity is usually enough to force governments to back down.
ZIFA has been mired in turmoil for several years facing persistent cash crunches ad the loss of several court cases to creditors.
The men’s national team, the Warriors, recently finished bottom of their World Cup qualifying group picking up only two points in a run that has seen them win just once in 15 games since the start of the year.
In September, ZIFA sacked Croatian Zdravko Logarusic bringing an end to his tumultuous reign as coach and disbanded the entire technical team.
Local fans and pundits had been highly critical of the team’s performances in the face of what they perceived as an irretrievable downward spiral by the Warriors.
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)