Zifa lift Sunday’s ban

Sunday Chidzambwa

Sunday Chidzambwa

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
SUNDAY Chidzambwa’s life ban by ZIFA, for his alleged involvement in the Asiagate match-fixing saga, has been lifted with immediate effect, giving the country’s most successful football coach the green light to resume his career on the domestic front.

Chidzambwa, the first coach to take the Warriors to the Nations Cup finals in Tunisia in 2004, was banned for life by the association in 2012, after a series of hearings conducted by the Justice Ebrahim Commission into the saga.

The commission recommended that Chidzambwa be banned and the ZIFA Board, after a two-day retreat at Pandhari Lodge in Harare in 2012, delivered a life ban.

The ban, though, was not endorsed by FIFA, despite ZIFA’s spirited efforts, and it meant that Chidzambwa, who had moved to South Africa at the time, was allowed to continue working in that country as coach of Black Leopards.

Another person, who had also been banned for life, goalkeeper Edmore “ZiKeeper” Sibanda, also had his ban lifted, giving him the green light to resume his career on the domestic scene and he could be playing for Division One side, Gunners, soon.

But the spotlight will fall on Chidzambwa, who returned home two years ago, and has been unable to secure a job on the domestic front, despite being wooed by a number of clubs who needed his services, because he was barred from working on the domestic football scene.

He has been battling for his freedom, in the last two years, and even engaged ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube on a number of occasions, including meeting the country’s football boss at his residence in the capital last year, to discuss the possibility of him being freed from the ban.

Chidzambwa also engaged Premier Soccer league boss Twine Phiri for a helping hand and was asked by ZIFA to put his request, for a review of his ban, in writing with hopes, back then, even high that he could make a return ahead of the start of the new domestic season this year. He was recently interviewed by a two-man ZIFA team, led by the association’s lawyer Ralph Maganga and questioned about events at the Merdeka Cup, where he led a Zimbabwe Select national team in Malaysia in 2007.

The veteran coach, who denies ever being involved in match-fixing, was also questioned about a trip undertaken by the Zimbabwe Under-20 team to a tournament in Bulgaria in 2008, and the roles he played during that tour.

Maganga’s team has been questioning a number of people implicated in the Asiagate saga, in recent weeks, as ZIFA battle to bring finality to a case that has dragged on for the past five years.

ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze wrote to Chidzambwa this week advising him that his life ban had been lifted, following his interview by Maganga’s team, and he could be used as a witness should the association decide to charge certain individuals at the end of the exercise.

Last night, Chidzambwa said he had not yet received the letter and would only comment after going through its contents.

“I haven’t seen the letter from ZIFA yet and it’s premature for me to comment on the issue although I can confirm that I was interviewed by a ZIFA team, whose members included their lawyer Maganga,” said Chidzambwa.

There have been a growing number of calls for Chidzambwa to be drafted into the Warriors’ technical set-up and lead the team’s charge for a place at the 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers.

Ian Gorowa, who guided the Warriors during the last Nations Cup qualifiers, even suggested recently that Chidzambwa be considered for a return to the Warriors, saying his experience was priceless if the country needed to negotiate its way out of a tough group that features Guinea and Malawi.

ZIFA believe that a review of the whole case, starting from the very bottom, would help them bring closure with those, who would be identified as having cases to answer, being brought before the Association’s Disciplinary Committee.

By doing so, ZIFA believe they would have covered all the grey areas and strengthen their case, in the event they impose sanctions on those who would have been found guilty, for those sanctions to be endorsed by FIFA and have a worldwide effect.

The only sticking points in this fresh exercise could come from questions that could justifiably be asked as to the undue influence that could be weighed upon the current exercise by sanctions pronounced by the ZIFA Board, on certain individuals, three years ago.

Given the ZIFA Disciplinary Committee is an arm, which falls under the ZIFA Board, the executive’s decision to pronounce sanctions, on individuals, three years ago, could be deemed to have an undue influence on the proceedings of their disciplinary arm.

Then, there is the hanging case of the people who appealed against the sanctions imposed by the ZIFA Board, including Method Mwanjali and Thomas Sweswe, who took their cases to an Appeals Committee set up by the Association, after paying $6 000 each, but after attending hearings, but never got to hear the verdict.

The three-man Appeals Committee, led by Advocate Silas Chekera, also had Advocate Thabani Mpofu and veteran football administrator, Chris Mbanga, as members, and although they pronounced their verdicts, the judgments have never been made public.

Maganga, as the ZIFA lawyer, represented the Association during those Appeals hearings.

How those cases, or individuals, could be brought back — if ZIFA decide to — before a Disciplinary Committee, after the completion of their hearings before an Appeals Committee set by the very same Association, could be provide a legal minefield.