Fifa lifts suspension on Zimbabwe after 17 months

Fifa has lifted its suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and has set up a temporary committee to operate the organisation for a year.

The decision of Fifa means that Zimbabwe will be in Wednesday’s draw for the African qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup.

“I want to assure Zimbabwe that you have the complete support of Fifa and of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) in ensuring that Zimbabwean football reaches the heights we’ve all desired,” Solomon Mudege, Fifa’s head of development in Africa, said at a news conference in Harare on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe was barred by Fifa in February 2022 after the country’s government-appointed Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended Zifa.

Fifa outlaws third-party interference in the running of a football association.

As result, Zimbabwe were excluded from the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2024 Women’s Afcon, among other competitions, and Zifa had its Fifa funding frozen.

The reasons for the SRC’s intervention included alleged sexual harassment of female referees by Zifa technical staff as well as allegations of fraud within Zimbabwean football’s governing body.

In September 2022, Fifa suspended former Zifa official Obert Zhoya for five years after adjudging him to have sexually harassed three female referees.

The newly-formed normalisation committee has been mandated to complete its duties by 30 June 2024. It will restructure Zifa, review its statutes and organise elections for a new board.

The committee will also ensure a proper financial handover to the new Zifa board and has been asked to establish a collaboration agreement between the SRC and Zifa to address issues of sexual harassment.

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