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Zimbabwe risk FIFA ban ahead of Africa Cup of Nations

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The Warriors’ participation in next year’s AFCON tournament is at risk after the country suspended its football association (ZIFA).

FIFA could ban the Zimbabwe national team after the nation’s government-appointed Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended its football association with immediate effect.

It’s no secret that football’s world governing body disapproves of government interference. It has banned national teams for this reason in the past, leaving Zimbabwe in an uncomfortable situation.

The SRC confirmed its decision to suspend an ‘incompetent’ ZIFA board on Tuesday. The Felton Kamambo-led board is yet to respond to the announcement. For now, though, the main concern lies with the national team’s future.

While Zimbabwe’s World Cup qualification hopes recently ended in a second-round exit, there is still the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations. The Warriors begin on January 10 against Senegal. They’ll also face Malawi (January 14) and Guinea (January 18) in Group B.

SRC braced for the worst-case scenario

“We are prepared in many respects for whatever might happen,” said SRC chair Gerald Mlotshwa as quoted by BBC.

“If FIFA bans Zimbabwean football, we are prepared for that. If it does happen, we look at it being a short-term measure.

“Zimbabwean football needs this opportunity just to fix itself – if we are out of international football for a year, two years, that’s fine. If we are suspended from AFCON next year we are prepared for that, that is fine, we need to deal with football.”

Why did SRC suspend ZIFA?

In its statement on Tuesday, SRC detailed several examples of ZIFA failures that led to the FA’s downfall.

One reason includes the board’s failure to account for public funds provided during the 2019 AFCON finals. They’re also accused of alleged sexual harassment of female referees, not treating the women’s team in the same manner as the men’s side, and for a lack of youth development.

Below is the SRC’s full statement.