FIFA lifts Zimbabwe suspension in time for World Cup qualifiers

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The suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) by FIFA has been lifted after 18 months, as confirmed by officials on Monday.

A temporary committee has been appointed to oversee ZIFA until new management is elected. This decision comes just before the draw for the African qualification competition for the 2026 World Cup.

In February 2022, Zimbabwe was suspended by the global governing body due to perceived government interference in the management of the troubled football association. 

The country’s Sports and Recreation Commission, a government-appointed body, dissolved ZIFA’s executive committee in November 2021. This action was taken following allegations of misappropriation of funds given by the state for Zimbabwe’s participation in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals. 

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Although Zimbabwe participated in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, they were not allowed to compete in the preliminaries for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ivory Coast.

“The Bureau of the FIFA Council decided to lift the suspension that was imposed on the Zimbabwe Football Association in February 2022 and appoint a normalisation committee with immediate effect,” FIFA confirmed in a statement on Monday.

Among their day-to-day duties, the normalisation committee will also “review the ZIFA Statutes and Electoral Code to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements, and to ensure their adoption by the ZIFA Congress”.

The task of leading the normalisation committee has been assigned to Lincoln Mutasa, a local administrator, and they are expected to fulfill their responsibilities by June 2024. 

The draw for the African qualifiers for the upcoming World Cup will take place during the CAF Congress, commencing in Abidjan on Thursday. The initial set of matches will be played in November.

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