FIFA locks gate to Z`bar membership

Zanzibar Football Association

The long awaited FIFA membership bid lodged by the Zanzibar Football Association (ZFA) has again blown up in smoke on grounds of lack of sovereignty, it has been revealed.

ZFA applied to become a member of the world football governing body last year when delegates, including some Government officials, paid a visit to FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

The former Minister for information, Sports and Culture of Zanzibar, Ali Juma Shamuhuna, was the head of the delegation that met FIFA president Sepp Blatter in Zurich to lure him for the long sought membership.

According to a letter dispatched by FIFA to the ZFA on June 21 this year with reference numbers SG/TRE/PCO signed by secretary general Jerome Vaicke, Zanzibar has been denied access to membership card on the strongest ground of missing sovereignty as an independent state.

As it has always been the case, FIFA says Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania and there is no way the body would open room for the Island’s membership.

Zanzibar’s status as an independent nation met an instant ‘death’ soon after the Union that established the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964.

“As long as Zanzibar is not an independent state and unrecognized by international community as a state, it is very sorry to declare that the membership application can not be executed,” it says part of the statement released by the FIFA secretary.

However, FIFA says Zanzibar would continue to benefit from FIFA grants to develop soccer through the Tanzania Football Federation, TFF, which has valid membership for the country.

Besides grants, FIFA has also assured Zanzibar the availability of its officials to attend courses and seminars conducted by the football body.

Copies of the FIFA’s response letter to Zanzibar’s membership bid failure has also been dispatched to Confederation of African Football (CAF), TFF, and ZFA’s Swiss-based representative Thuraye Ghassany.

In a bizarre twist of events, ZFA’s assistant secretary general Masoud Attai denied receiving the FIFA official letter and claimed to intensify efforts for the membership bid.

Attai said Zanzibar’s minister for Information, Culture, Tourism and Sports Abdillah Hassan Jihad has already made an appointment to have a dialogue with FIFA president Blatter with regard to the membership bid procession.

Besides former minister Shamhuna, the Zurich-toured delegation of last year included his permanent secretary Omar Dadi Shajak, former minister for information, sports and culture for Mainland Joel Bendera, TFF president Leodegar Tenga and ZFA president Ali Fereji Tamim.

Unconfirmed reports had it that the FIFA letter has been received by the ZFA office but the vice-president Haji Ameir allegedly declined to make it public.

ZFA president Tamim had allegedly told delegates of the annual general meeting ahead of the general election held in Pemba that Zanzibar’s membership application is right on track and promising as well.

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