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Wayne Lumbasi

Kenya and Zimbabwe have been handed an indefinite ban from all football activities by world governing body FIFA following government interference, boss Gianni Infantino announced Thursday.

The ban means no Kenyan or Zimbabwean team – including club sides vying for Confederation of African Football (CAF) tournaments – can play internationally. Funds from FIFA are also cut off for the two nations.

Further, neither the countries’ soccer bodies nor any of its members or officials may benefit from any development programs, courses or training from FIFA and CAF. Local football will however proceed.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino /Courtesy/

Zimbabwe was banned after its government-run Sports and Recreation Commission refused to relinquish control of the Zimbabwe Football Association and reinstate the federation’s leadership. ZIFA officials were removed from office in November on allegations of corruption.

Kenya was banned after its sports ministry also removed the soccer federation’s leaders and accused them of corruption. Kenyan soccer president Nick Mwendwa is facing criminal charges.

Kenya’s women football team Harambee Starlets /Courtesy/

The Kenyan government and the Football Federation of Kenya (FKF) dispute has greatly affected players, with the national women’s team pulling out of the CAF Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) final qualifier against Uganda, who were handed a walkover to clinch a spot in the Morocco continental tournament.

Making the statement on Thursday evening during a press conference in Zurich, Infantino issued a condition of reinstating the disbanded ZIFA and FKF and dissolving Kenya’s Caretaker Committee for the suspension to be lifted.  

“We had to suspend two of our member associations Kenya and Zimbabwe both for government interference in the activities of the football,” he said.

These associations are suspended from all football activities with immediate effect and they know what need to be done for them to be re-admitted or the suspension to be lifted,” he added.

“On the basis of article 14 paragraphs one I) and 3 of the FIFA Statutes – as well as article 16 paragraph 1, under which the FIFA Council may, without a vote of the Congress, temporarily suspend with immediate effect a member association that seriously violates its obligations – the FIFA Council decided to suspend the FKF with immediate effect due to flagrant violations of the FIFA Statutes,” Infantino added.

FKF President Nick Mwendwa was arrested twice and charged with four counts of illegal acquisition of public property and one count of conspiracy to commit a corruption offence. On the other hand, FIFA said that it would not intervene in the Mwendwa inquiry, and that the international governing organization does not support corruption.

FIFA said it will cooperate with investigations into alleged corruption and sexual harassment by Zimbabwe soccer officials.

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Wayne Lumbasi