FIFA lifts Zimbabwe suspension in time for World Cup qualifiers

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July 10 (Reuters) – FIFA has lifted its 18-month suspension of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) just days before the draw for the African qualification competition for the 2026 World Cup, officials confirmed on Monday.

An interim normalisation committee has been appointed to run the affairs of ZIFA until elections for a new management team are held.

Zimbabwe was suspended by the global governing body in February 2022 following perceived government interference in the running of the troubled football association.

The executive committee of ZIFA was ordered dissolved in November 2021 by the country’s Sports and Recreation Commission, a government-appointed body, amid allegations that money given to the association by the state for Zimbabwe’s participation at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations finals was misappropriated.

Zimbabwe played in the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, but were barred from taking part 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 normalization 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 normalisation committee will be chaired by local administrator Lincoln Mutasa, and must complete its mandate by June 2024.

The draw for the African qualifiers for the next World Cup is to be held at the CAF Congress, which officially starts in Abidjan on Thursday.

The first round of fixtures will be played in November.

Reporting by Nick Said Editing by Christian Radnedge

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