Gumede calls for calm

HARARE - Former Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) vice-president Ndumiso Gumede, a former ally of the local football governing body’s embattled boss Cuthbert Dube, has urged authorities to shun a confrontational approach in efforts to remove Dube from office.

Gumede, who served as number two to Dube on the Zifa board between 2010 and last year when he decided against running for re-election, said sacking Dube would leave the country with “egg on its face” as world football ruling body, International Federation of Association Football (Fifa) will only lift a likely ban in the event that the old board is reinstated unconditionally.

The long-serving Zimbabwean football administrator, who is now chief executive of top-flight side Highlanders Football Club in Bulawayo, added that inviting a ban on the country would leave lasting damage on the game inside the country.

Zimbabwe’s government last week threatened to sack Dube and his entire board, with deputy Sports minister Tabeth Kanengoni-Malinga telling parliamentarians in the august House last Wednesday that they were not concerned a bit about the dire consequences of a possible Fifa ban from international football in the event of such action.

And reacting to the proclamation by the government, Fifa wrote to Zifa at the weekend warning that such interference would attract the full wrath of the Zurich-based organisation, which outlaws external interference in the affairs of its affiliates.

In the letter, addressed to the Zifa president and copied to the Confederation of African Football (Caf), Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke said there are taking government’s threats seriously.

“We have learnt from media reports that the Zimbabwean authorities have supposedly discussed the possibility to disband the Zifa board,” Valcke wrote.

“Should the allegations prove to be true, we would like to remind you that according to articles 13 and 17 of the Fifa Statutes, Zifa has to manage its affairs independently and with no influence by any third parties.

“Failure to do so would be considered as a violation of the Fifa Statutes and Zifa would be subject to sanctions, including suspension.

“In addition, the suspension would only be lifted once the status quo is restored.

“Lastly, a suspension would mean that all Fifa member

associations would not entertain sporting contacts with Zifa and that Zifa would not benefit from any programme or financial assistance from Fifa and Caf.

“We thank you (sic) to inform the interested parties accordingly and to provide us with a report on the situation as soon as possible.”

And Gumede, who has previously served in different positions at Zifa, warned that Zimbabwe ought to be “careful” in its handling of the Dube issue.

“I think first of all we ought to be careful; we should not play into the hands of Fifa,” Gumede told the Daily News yesterday.

“All these intentions are noble, but if Malinga is to go through with her threats there is no doubt Zimbabwe will be suspended.

“To me, the desirable approach is to seat down with Dube and show him that things are getting worse everyday and respectfully ask him to leave. Another option would be if all his lieutenants (Zifa board members) feel aggrieved and say we are standing down.

“But to stand in Parliament with all these threats, it’s not the way to go about it. With all due respect, Zimbabwe will be left with egg on its face until we put Dube and his board back.

“People say (Andrew) Langa (Sports minister) is soft but he is the only one who is treading carefully.

“Once we are suspended, all the other nations won’t want anything to do with us. No friendlies with anybody. People will forget us and in the end we will still have to eat humble pie and re-instate Dube.

“We are shooting bullets not caring who gets hurt in the process.”

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