THE Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) board last night suspended Zifa chief executive Joseph Mamutse from all football activities amid reports that the Under-17 boys and girls teams travelled to South Africa for international assignments without clearance from the supreme sports governing body.

BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA

SRC director-general Prince Mupazviriho was also placed under suspension to pave way for an investigation into the circumstances under which “authority” was purportedly granted, in retrospect, for the teams to travel to South Africa.

Sports and recreation development director Sebastian Garikai was redeployed to act in Mupazviriho’s stead pending the outcome of the investigations.

The SRC, which had initially refused to clear the Under-20 soccer team which is also set to travel to South Africa, capitulated and advised Zifa that it will grant exemption to enable the team to make the trip for the Cosafa tournament.

The supreme sports governing body, however, clarified that any final authorisation would be at the instance of the Sport and Health ministries in light of the COVID-19 regulations.

“Notwithstanding the clear provisions of the law and related guidelines, policies and directives relating to the undertaking of external tours by football teams representing Zimbabwe at various age and gender groups under the auspices of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa), the SRC board notes the persistent flouting of the aforesaid framework in place, with the attendant controversies and embarrassments to the country,” SRC board chairperson Gerald Mhlotshwa said in a statement.

“Noting the need to balance the interests of athletes against the need to hold accountable those administrators responsible for these shortcomings, the board of commissioners of the SRC has resolved as follows:-

“1. The placement of the general-secretary/CEO of Zifa, Joseph Mamutse, under immediate suspension from all forms of football administration pending an investigation into the circumstances under which:-

“1.1 The Zimbabwe national women’s football team left Zimbabwe to participate in a tournament in South Africa without the necessary approval from the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation (Sports ministry) in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care (‘Health ministry’) in light of the COVID-19 regulations and attendant directives thereto;

“1.2 The Zimbabwe national Under-17 girls’ football team left Zimbabwe to participate in a tournament in South Africa without the necessary approval from the Sports ministry in conjunction with the Health ministry in light of the COVID-19 regulations and attendant directives thereto;

“1.3 The circumstances under which the Zimbabwe national Under-17 boys’ football team left Zimbabwe to participate in a tournament in South Africa without the necessary approval from the Sports ministry in conjunction with the Health ministry in light of the COVID-19 regulations and attendant directives thereto;

“1.4 The circumstances under which the Zimbabwe national Under-17 boy’s football team was nonetheless disqualified from participating in the said Cosafa tournament on allegations of including overage player(s) in the side.

“2. The placement of the director-general of the Sports and Recreation Commission, Prince Mupazviriho, on immediate suspension pending an investigation into the circumstances under which ‘authority’ was purportedly granted, in retrospect, to the teams set out in 1.1 and 1.2 to travel to South Africa without the knowledge and/or authority of the SRC board as well as the ministries of Sport and Health, above;

“3. The board of commissioners notes, in light of Zifa’s reported ‘appeal’, that the Sports ministry has, in writing, advised Zifa to seek an exemption from the SRC for being non-compliant in respect of its application for clearance of the Zimbabwe national Under-20 boys football team to participate at the Cosafa boys tournament in South Africa. Due consideration will be given to any such request for an exemption taking into account the foregoing exigencies — any final authorisation shall be at the instance of the ministries of Sport and of Health.”

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