Munetsi warns of Fifa ban’s effects on local footballers

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Marshall Munetsi

Zimbabwe international midfielder Marshall Munetsi has warned that the Southern African country risks losing an entire generation of footballers if local football and sports authorities do not quickly find a solution following the country’s recent suspension by Fifa.

Zimbabwean football was left facing a very bleak future after the world governing body suspended the country from international competitions last week citing government interference in the running of the game.

Fifa’s decision comes after the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) suspended Zifa’s entire executive on allegations of gross incompetence, failure to account for public funds and sexual harassment of female referees.

There are fears that the Fifa suspension is set to remain in place indefinitely due to the deadlock between the SRC and the suspended Zifa board.

With local football seemingly in limbo, Munetsi has become the first local football star to speak on the country’s suspension by Fifa, saying it would have negative effects on local footballers.

“The ban on our national teams from international football and our local teams from international cup competitions is quite sad. Football has since evolved into a sport that’s more than just a sport, many livelihoods now depend on it, and it’s a source of hope during tough times. Football is a uniting table where people with differences can sit together and feast at the spectacle we call the beautiful game,” Munetsi wrote on Twitter.

The influential midfielder, who is on the books of French Ligue 1 side Stade de Reims called on the two warring parties to consider the plight of local footballers, who are barely recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the domestic game.

“It has been two years without any meaningful development on the local football scene due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result of that, we stand to lose a young generation of talented footballers who now have to resort to other means of earning because football has been in limbo. As we were now getting back into some sort of cautious normalcy as we try to emerge from the effects of COVID-19 in our football our beautiful nation gets struck by a ban on international football, our football stands to lose quite a lot for many years as a result,” he said.

Munetsi said he is hopeful that both SRC and Zifa would find a solution that ensures that the Fifa ban is lifted while also ensuring that Zimbabwean football is administered better.

“I pray the parties involved can get to a resolution quickly so that we can get back to playing international football soon. And the decisions made will in fact pave a way for better running of our football,” he said.

Zimbabwe’s football players both locally and based outside the country’s borders are set to bear the brunt of the country’s suspension from the international football family by Fifa.

The suspension means Zimbabwe are likely not going to feature in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers whose preliminary round gets underway next month.

Should Zifa and SRC fail to reach an agreement with Fifa, the outcome of the ongoing 2021-2022 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League campaign will not have a legitimate winner as Fifa will not recognise it.

Thus local clubs will not play in the Caf Champions League and the Confederation Cup. The suspension will also affect the transfer window, both in the domestic league and also for players moving to foreign clubs as they require International Transfer Certificate (ITC) to move from one football association to another.

It means players who were already on the move and are yet to get clearance will have to suffer and wait for longer, as Fifa will not sanction the transfers. It will also affect the local league, whose transfer window is still open.

Foreign-based players like Munetsi will still be able to renew contracts, but cannot move to another country if their contract expires.

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