Zim govt probes case of missing soccer players

A government commission is looking into the alleged defection of eight soccer players from a squad that went to play a friendly exhibition match in Britain, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Officials confirmed on Monday the eight had failed to show up at London’s Heathrow airport last week for the return flight. Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have emigrated—some illegally—in recent years as the economy collapsed.

The Sports and Recreation Commission appointed to look into the soccer players’ disappearance was prominent before the 1994 demise of apartheid in neighbouring South Africa, when it rigorously enforced bans on Zimbabweans appearing in any South African sports, entertainment or artistic event.

Its chairperson, retired army Brigadier Gibson Mashingaidze, told the Daily Mirror the commission had demanded a full report from the Zimbabwe Football Association on the eight missing players. The commission had approved the trip to Britain by a 40-member squad of players and officials.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last year estimated up to 400 000 Zimbabweans were in Britain.
A further two-million were thought to be in neighbouring South Africa.

Zimbabwe is struggling with 80% unemployment, 265% inflation, and shortages of sugar, gasoline and other goods. - Sapa-AP

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