Zimbabwean immigration authorities have refused to issue a work visa to national soccer team coach Tom Saintfiet of Belgium, deported last month for failing to secure a work permit before starting his new job.
Sources in the Zimbabwe Football Association confirmed Saintfiet's visa application was rejected, but referred VOA to ZIFA lawyer Ralph Maganga. But Maganga could not be reached as of late Wednesday.
Appointed coach of the Zimbabwe Warriors, Saintfiet violated immigration laws by conducting training sessions without a work permit before an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Cape Verde. He was ordered out of the country and was said to be awaiting developments in a bordering state.
It remained unclear what course ZIFA would now take as it had signed a four-year contract with Saintfiet and it may take some time for him to return to work - if he ultimately is able - should ZIFA appeal the decision.
The news that Saintfiet was denied a work permit could not have come at a worse time. ZIFA is still reeling from revelations that Warriors players and officials rigged matches for pay during an Asian tour in 2009.
A probe into the match-fixing allegations led to the firing of ZIFA Chief Executive Henrietta Rushwaya, found to have approved the national team's trip to Asia without permission from the ZIFA board and the country's Sports and Recreation Commission. Rushwaya has challenged her firing and the matter has gone into arbitration.
Elsewhere in Zimbabwe soccer, Chicken Inn Football Club of the Southern Region of Division One appears to have secured a spot for 2011 in the Premier Soccer League having locked up the regional title with few games left.
Chicken Inn Chairman Lifa Ncube told Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye that his team will fulfill all remaining fixtures in Division One despite the mathematical lock it has put on on the Southern Region title.
With seven games left in the Premier League schedule, no PSL team has yet been mathematically relegated yet though fans consider the Bantu Rovers a candidate for demotion to Division One.