Zambia soccer fans welcome FIFA lifting on ban of ex-soccer chief

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LUSAKA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Soccer enthusiasts in Zambia on Tuesday welcomed the decision by the world's soccer governing body FIFA to reduce a ban on the country's former football head after an appeal.

Last year, FIFA imposed a two-year ban on Kalusha Bwalya, a former head of Zambia's soccer governing body and a 1988 African Footballer of the Year, for accepting a gift which violated FIFA's code of ethics.

The ban from all soccer-related activities followed an investigation into his links to banned Qatari official Mohammed Bin Hamman.

But on Monday, FIFA announced that its appeal panel had reduced Bwalya's ban to the time he had already served, while his fine was also cut to 10,090 U.S. dollars from 100,900 dollars.

Adrian Kashala, general secretary of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), said the association welcomes the decision by FIFA as it will allow Bwalya to contribute to the development of football.

The official told reporters during a press briefing that the decision will put to rest speculations that were going around that some officials at the association were behind Bwalya's suspension.

Ronald Chitotela, Zambia's Minister of Housing and Infrastructure Development, who was deputy sports minister when the 55-year-old Bwalya was banned, said the decision was welcome as it would allow him to participate in Zambian football.

The Zambian minister, an ardent soccer fan, said in a statement on his Facebook page that it was gratifying that FIFA has decided to give Bwalya another chance to participate in football-related activities.

"I join millions of Zambians in welcoming the lifting of the ban that FIFA imposed on Kalusha Bwalya. This is a big moment for Zambian football and we must celebrate it," he said.

Bowman Lusambo, another soccer enthusiast and Minister for Lusaka Province welcomed the decision and pledged to pay the fine imposed on him.

"To demonstrate my happiness, I pledge to pay the fine that the Appeals Committee has imposed on Kalusha Bwalya. The gesture does not in any way seek to cast aspersions on Kalusha's ability to pay the fine but it is a small attempt at thanking Kalusha for the many years of great service to Zambia," he said on his Facebook page.

He said the funds to honor the pledge to pay the fine on behalf of the soccer chief will be fully funded from personal resources and in his capacity as a football fan and urged other soccer fans to take part as well.

He said the lifting of the ban will enable Bwalya to devote his time to the game of football.

Other soccer fans also took to social media to welcome the lifting of the ban, with some urging him to run for the presidency of the country's soccer governing body. Enditem

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