IN a world where social media has considerable influence, fake news can be peddled recklessly and, sadly, it can be consumed as the real deal by a huge constituency of the public.
There are no regulations, which guide the world of social media, and anything can be tossed onto its landscape and provoke a feeding frenzy.
This was the case in the past two weeks when a number of stories, disguised as genuine news, were planted on social media, related to the fate of this nation, in terms of its place in the FIFA family.
Many of the sensational reports claimed that Zimbabwe was going to be EXPELLED from FIFA, after serving a year’s suspension, in the wake of the fallout triggered by the suspension of Felton Kamambo and his ZIFA board, by the Sports Commission.
The punishment, they claimed, was set to be meted out in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, where FIFA have been holding their annual Congress.
This week, a FAKE message was trending in this country in which the authors claimed that FIFA were set to expel Zimbabwe for good, and these were going to be the consequences:
· No football to be played even at grassroots.
· All Zimbabwean players, local or foreign, will not (be) allowed to play football, if he or she plays outside Zimbabwe, his/her club will be forced to terminate his/her contract.
· The Premier League will be BANNED.
· ZIFA will be DISSOLVED.”
As a media organisation with a responsibility to inform the public as accurately as possible, we challenged the speculation and argued that FIFA have never EXPELLED a member.
We argued that even during the darkest days of apartheid, South Africa were suspended, and not expelled, by FIFA in September 1961.
We reminded our readers, and those who were peddling the lies, that although it took another 31 years, before South Africa were readmitted back into FIFA in 1992, the Rainbow Nation was never expelled despite being in the cold for more than three decades.
We also reminded them that during that lengthy period in isolation, domestic football was still played in South Africa and their stars, like Kaizer Motaung and Jomo Sono, were cleared to play in the United States.
It was also important for us to remind them that this country was also suspended from FIFA in 1970, because of the racist policies of the white minority government, which was in power back then.
But, even then, this did not stop domestic football with the likes of George Shaya building their legacy during that decade.
As we had correctly reported, Zimbabwe was not expelled from FIFA yesterday but the suspension was extended until their demands, including the reinstatement of Kamambo, are fulfilled.
It’s a challenge for us to find a resolution to this impasse, in one way or another, because we all agree that our football can’t continue living in the international football wilderness, in which we find ourselves, today.
The ball is in our court and the sooner we find a solution, the better for us.