BY MICHAEL KARIATI
IT’S back to square one for Zimbabwean football after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) rejected all efforts Zimbabwe has so far made to restructure its football since February 24, 2022, when the country was thrown out of international football by Fifa.
Caf has rejected the Zifa board led by Gift Banda, which was installed by the Zifa assembly and will also not accept the outcome of the nine-member Zifa Restructuring Committee headed by Blessing Rugara which was appointed by the SRC.
One can easily tell from the tone of the July 20, 2022, letter from Caf secretary general, Veron Mosengo-Omba – especially the emphasis on the reinstatement of Felton Kamambo — that there is a hand of Fifa in all this.
In as much as Zimbabwe and its football followers would want to pretend or ignore the impact of the Caf letter, the truth is that the blow or the punch that Caf landed has sent the whole restructuring process crashing to the canvas.
This means, in the meantime, all negotiations with Caf and Fifa with regards to a possible immediate return to international football have been closed until Zimbabwe follows the required path by Fifa.
Worse still is the fact that there is not even a slightest hint as to when Caf and Fifa would be prepared to listen to the Zimbabwean story until only after the SRC has lifted the Kamambo suspension and has also withdrawn the court case in which Kamambo and friends are facing allegations of using the Zifa name while on suspension.
This effectively means that the restructuring committee’s countrywide merry-go-round tour and all those Zifa assembly gatherings were a waste of time and money as their efforts are leading to the land of nowhere.
All this brings us to square one and what Zimbabwe could not have lost had the SRC done the simplest thing of following the Fifa demands way back in November, 2021 when the international football body demanded the reinstatement of Kamambo and friends.
By now, the Mighty Warriors would have been at the Cosafa Championships, the Warriors would have won their sixth Cosafa Cup title and the Zimbabwean team would have been in Afcon 2023 and Chan 2023, and Kamambo would have been closer to completing his term to pave way for a new leadership.
Zimbabwe also stands to lose out on a band of the country’s talented young footballers, who were born abroad and mostly in the United Kingdom who were willing to turn out for the Warriors but could be chased away by the events on the ground.
As Zimbabweans look forward to the future, the question everyone who follows Zimbabwean football should be asking is : Has Zimbabwe moved forward or backwards since that February 24 evening when the Warriors, the Mighty and the Young Warriors, were thrown out of international football by Fifa ?
Is there a sign of light in the direction in which Zimbabwean football is heading to in the hands of the SRC or that Zimbabwe should just play ball and bring back Kamambo and give him the remaining part of his term ?
Fifa have through Caf once again laid their cards on the table but it is Zimbabweans who have to work out the puzzle on whether they want to continue under the existing SRC driven order or change direction and bow down to the Fifa demands.
The advice would be for those in the SRC and the Kamambo Clan to throw their egos into the dustbin and get together and work towards one goal which is the restoration of Zimbabwe back to the days when it was part of a happy Fifa family.
This surely might not be easy considering the finger pointing and witch hunting that exists in between but minister Kirsty Coventry has the key to this door which if she uses can close this Zifa soap opera.
The solution would be for Coventry to call for a -round-table-meeting involving all the parties at play, or else the cat-and-mouse game will continue, and so will the Zifa comedy.
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