ZURICH (Reuters) - Zimbabwe have been expelled from the 2018 World Cup qualifying competition for failing to pay a former coach, football's governing body FIFA said on Thursday.
"The expulsion comes as a result of the non-payment of an outstanding debt by ZIFA (the Zimbabwe Football Federation) to the coach Jose Claudinei Georgini," FIFA said in a statement.
Georgini, a Brazilian usually known as Valinhos, coached Zimbabwe in 2008.
ZIFA had failed to pay the outstanding amount despite twice being ordered to do so by FIFA's disciplinary committee, FIFA said.
On the second occasion, ZIFA were told they would be expelled from the World Cup qualifiers without further warning if they did not settle up.
"ZIFA was informed that the expulsion would be ordered automatically without any further decision needed from the FIFA Disciplinary Committee and, once more, ZIFA did not appeal the decision," said FIFA.
"Given ZIFA’s failure to make any payment within the granted periods and the request presented by the creditor, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee – in line with its second decision – ordered the expulsion of ZIFA from the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia."
The African zone qualifiers are due to kick off in October, with the draw to be made in St Petersburg in July.
Known as the Warriors, Zimbabwe are 124th in the FIFA world rankings and have never qualified for the World Cup. They have twice played at the African Nations Cup, in 2004 and 2006.
Writing by Brian Homewood in London, editing by Alan Baldwin