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World governing body FIFA has banned a former Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) official Obert Zhoya for sexual offences.

Zhoya, who was in charge of the referees’ committee, has been sanctioned from taking part in any football-related matter for five years.

A statement by FIFA read:

The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has banned Mr Obert Zhoya, former secretary general of the Referees Committee of the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) from all football-related activities for a duration of five years, after having found him guilty of abusing his position to sexually harass three female ZIFA referees. In addition, the adjudicatory chamber imposed a fine amounting to CHF 20,000 on Mr Zhoya.

Upon careful analysis of the written statements of the victims as well as the various evidence collected during the investigations conducted by the investigatory chamber, the adjudicatory chamber was comfortably satisfied that Mr Zhoya had breached art. 23 (Protection of physical and mental integrity), art. 25 (Abuse of position) and, by corollary, art. 13 (General duties) of the Code of Ethics.

The terms of the decision were notified to Mr Zhoya today, the date on which the ban comes into force, and will be followed by notification of the grounds within the next 60 days in accordance with the Code of Ethics.

FIFA has a strict stance against all forms of abuse in football and the Ethics Committee handles all such cases in line with the Code of Ethics, taking into account the specificity of each.

FIFA also provides a confidential, dedicated, highly secure and web-based whistle-blowing system so that individuals can report any safeguarding concerns.

The alleged victims are said to be former referees who registered their complaints with the Zifa board and the allegations were also sent to Fifa, the Confederation of African Football, as well as the Council of Southern African Football Associations.

Currently, the Southern African nation is under a Fifa suspension due to government interference in football-related matters. The suspension was served in February when the Zifa board was suspended and the consequent formation of the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) by the government in November 2021.

By Amara

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