Kirsty Coventry sheds tears, says she was judged harshly, moments after FIFA announces lifting of Zimbabwe’s suspension

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SPORTS Minister Kirsty Coventry Monday battled her emotions, shedding tears moments after football mother body FIFA announced the lifting of sanctions laid on Zimbabwe last year February.

By Bhora Afrika

Coventry had for just over a year and a half been the recipient of a barrage of attacks over her decision to suspend ZIFA’s Felton Kamambo executive, the sole reason why FIFA suspended Zimbabwe.

She raised sexual assault claims and corruption as the main reasons for her actions with FIFA sticking to its principle of ‘no government interference.’

Speaking at FIFA’s official announcement of the development in Harare, Coventry, who was backed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said they had been forced to make difficult decisions for Zimbabwean football to thrive.

“I know many of you have judged us very harshly for the decision we took, but we have to make hard decisions in order to make sure we are doing the best for our stakeholders,” said Coventry as she forced back tears.

“The way in which our soccer was running was heavily depended on what the administrators wanted and only for their benefit.

“We have an opportunity right now through this Normalisation Committee to build and rebuild a solid foundation that sees all of our footballer fraternity and stakeholders thriving…this is the time.”

A four-member normalisation committee picked by FIFA and CAF will run the affairs of ZIFA until the 30th of June 2024 before the election of another administration.

The committee is chaired by former Dynamos chairperson Lincoln Mutasa. Other members of the committee are former Highlanders player, Sikhumbuzo Ndebele, former Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza, and lawyer Nyasha Sanyamandwe.

Zimbabwe’s official readmission into international football comes a day before the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers draw in which it has been included.

Its first FIFA sanctioned match is expected to be in November when the Warriors kickoff their campaign.

Coventry was in the company of ally Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) Chairperson Gerald Mlotshwa, FIFA Head of Development for Africa Solomon Mudege, COSAFA and CAF representatives.

Added Coventry: “We have good people within our football fraternity, I hope now they are going to be brave enough to stand up and be part of this change. Do not allow the rot to come back.”

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