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Zimbabwe's Football Association Ban Lifted
After missing out on the Africa Cup of Nations due to a suspension related to miss-appropriated government funds, Zimbabwe football is back just in time for the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers.
Zimbabwe's football association has been pardoned as FIFA officially lifted its suspension after nearly two years due to government interference. The decision comes just in time for the African qualifiers draw for the 2026 World Cup, scheduled to take place in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Thursday.
FIFA imposed the ban on the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) in February 2022 following the dissolution of the ZIFA executive committee by the country's Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC). The SRC accused the ZIFA executive of financial misconduct, specifically misappropriating funds provided by the government.
The lifting of the ban allows Zimbabwe to participate in the African qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, providing a glimmer of hope for the nation's football enthusiasts. However, the suspension had already taken its toll, as Zimbabwe missed out on the opportunity to compete in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations preliminaries.
Expressing its satisfaction with the SRC's decision, FIFA released a statement welcoming the lifting of the suspension and acknowledging the frustrations endured by the Zimbabwean football community. The statement emphasized the need to prevent administrators and individuals driven by self-centeredness and egotism from hindering the progress of football in the country.
"We are acutely cognisant of the inconvenience, pain and frustration that the suspension from international football has elicited. Never again should our football become a victim of unscrupulous administrators and social miscreants driven by self-centeredness and egotism as has been the case over the years," said Gerald Mlotshwa, Chairperson of the Sports and Recreation Commission.
Nevertheless, Zimbabwe still faces challenges as the ZIFA executive committee's term has expired, leaving a void in the organizational structure. FIFA has called for reforms within Zimbabwean football, with a particular focus on addressing allegations of sexual harassment that have plagued the sport.
Despite these obstacles, Zimbabwe remains optimistic about its prospects in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. The team is expected to make a strong push to secure a spot in the tournament, eager to compensate for their absence from the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
With the ban lifted and an opportunity to start anew, Zimbabwean football can strive for a brighter future by addressing internal issues, implementing necessary reforms, and nurturing a positive footballing environment for its players and fans alike.
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