The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has warned local match officials harbouring intentions of boycotting matches in protest over the appointment of South African and Zambian match officials for the Mbada Diamonds Cup semi final encounters played over the weekend.
The appointment of South African and Zambian match officials for the Dynamos/FC Platinum and Motor Action/Zimbabwe Saints clashes on Sunday has evoked the ire of local referees who feel the move was an insult on their ability to officiate.
ZIFA took the bold step to appoint foreign officials to avert a pre-determined outcome following allegations of corrupt practices by some local referees who were being paid to influence the results of matches.
ZIFA Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jonathan Mashingaidze responded to the chorus of disapproval by reminding local referees that his association retains the right to appoint and deploy referees through the referees committee, adding that they are not looking back in their quest to rid the local game of all forms of unfair play, hence the setting up of an inquest to look into the conduct of referees.
â€œReferees thinking of boycotting matches better be very careful because we will deal ruthlessly with any such cases. ZIFA has the right to terminate their status as referees so any match officials having the intentions to boycott matches will be shooting themselves in the foot,â€ said Mashingaidze.
Responding to a question on whether the appointment of match officials was not an admission on the part of the football mother body that they have failed to control poor officiating, Mashingaidze said the move was borne out of a desire to protect the sponsor, who has poured a substantial amount into the tournament.
â€œIt was a stop gate measure. We did it to protect the sponsors of the tournament, that is why we brought in top referees from South Africa,â€ Mashingaidze added.
Meanwhile, the football mother body says the high profile international friendly match pitting Zimbabwe and South Africa scheduled for next Wednesday will be handled by foreign officials whose identities will be made public in due course.