FIFA has spoken for the first time on the political situation in Zimbabwe, with the world governing body general-secretary, Jerome Valcke, this week saying the political turmoil in the country was adding to a long list of problems South Africa faced in its preparation for the 2010 World Cup finals.
“The situation in Zimbabwe has to be solved quickly,” Valcke told a media briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday. “What is happening there is definitely terrible,”. “It would have been nice for South Africa with all the other challenges they are facing not to have the problem of Zimbabwe on top of it all.”
Valcke said Fifa backed various international initiatives to resolve the political impasse following the contested elections that returned president Robert Mugabe to power last month. “We add our voice to concerns and we fully support what is being done by all international organisations.”
But Valcke said he was unsure what effect international sanctions would have on Zimbabwe’s national team, who are involved in 2010 World Cup qualifiers. “Their national association has done nothing wrong. This would be something we would have to discuss with the United Nations.
We do have links with some international bodies but for the time being I can tell you we have made no decision on Zimbabwe.” Recent week have seen growing calls for sporting sanctions against Zimbabwe to put pressure on the Zimbabwe government.
The cricket boards of South Africa and England cut bilateral ties with Zimbabwe Cricket two weeks ago in response to the worsening political situation in the country. Last week the International Cricket Council (ICC) halted an 11th hour proposal to revoke Zimbabwe’s full membership status amid calls by some member countries to suspend the Zimbabweans.
This week the Amateur Athletics Association of Zimbabwe (AAAZ) was also dealt a blow when the Polish embassy in Harare denied several athletes visas. The local athletes intended to travel for an international competition. The embassy cited late submission of travel documents. However AAAZ officials fear the development could be a result of the simmering tension mounting between President Robert Mugabe’s government and the European Union. – Reuters/ Staff Writer.