According to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Zimbabwe and Kenya will not compete in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Both countries will be unable to compete in the qualifiers next month due to their ongoing bans from international football. The bans were imposed by the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) due to governmental intervention in the game's administration.
FIFA suspended Zimbabwe after the Sports and Recreation Commission's (SRC) decision to suspend the Zimbabwe Football Administration (ZIFA) board led by Felton Kamambo. The SRC intervened after allegations of gross incompetence and corruption by the ZIFA board.
The suspended ZIFA board formally filed with FIFA for sanctions, citing ongoing government meddling. However, the government of Zimbabwe has accused FIFA of remaining silent and doing nothing in the wake of reports that ZIFA officials sexually harassed female referees.
The ban in Zimbabwe was welcomed by some soccer fans because the Warriors currently do not have a home ground. All the stadiums in Zimbabwe were deemed unfit to host any international matches by CAF and FIFA and the Warriors were planning to use a Zambian stadium as their home ground.
In Kenya, FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared that Kenya has been barred from all football-related activities indefinitely. The ban came after the Football Kenya Federation (FKF) was taken over by the government and a caretaker committee was created in November 2021 because of financial mismanagement.
Initially, both countries had been included in the 2023 Nations Cup draw despite the suspension but on conditions. In order to be allowed to compete in the qualifying campaign, Kenya and Zimbabwe needed their bans lifted two weeks before their first match. Neither country, however, has been able to meet the FIFA conditions for removing their suspension.
In previous Afcon editions, Kenya has competed in six finals, while Zimbabwe has appeared in five. The Harambee Stars, who last competed in the Nations Cup in 2019, were scheduled to play in Cameroon on June 4, while the Warriors of Zimbabwe, who have appeared in the last three finals, were scheduled to host Liberia five days later.
This means that Kenya's Group C will now consist of Cameroon, Namibia, and Burundi, while Zimbabwe's Group K will consist of only Morocco, South Africa, and Liberia. The top two countries from each group will advance to the event.
The qualifiers will be played within a short period of time compared to previous editions because of the delayed 2021 Afcon finals which were played this year in January. The winners and runners-up in each of the 12 groups advance to the finals, which will be held at six locations in the Ivory Coast on dates to be revealed in June and July of next year.
The Zimbabwe Warriors have also been ruled out of this year's Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup after the Southern Regional Football Organization confirmed that Zimbabwe will be ineligible due to a FIFA ban.