Zimbabwe players are threatening to boycott the opening game of the Africa Cup of Nations against hosts Egypt because they claim they have not been paid.
Speaking to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, Zimbabwe players and a team official said a meeting with federation officials at the team hotel on Thursday failed to resolve the stand-off.
Zimbabwe are due to open Africa’s top tournament against Mohamed Salah’s Egypt on Friday in Cairo.
The players refused to train on the eve of the game and spent most of the day in their hotel rooms before emerging to meet with officials.
They are demanding to be paid their allowances for the tournament, along with allowances and match fees still owed to them from a regional tournament last month.
One of the people with knowledge of the situation said some players had asked to be released from the squad so they could return home.
The Zimbabwe Football Association said in a statement that the game against Egypt would go ahead and there was no strike threat, but that was countered by the five players and the team official who spoke to the AP.
They said there was still a deadlock in the negotiations.
A player strike to start the tournament, which runs until July 19, would leave African football in a mess.
FIFA announced on Thursday that it was taking steps to clean up the continent’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football, which is plagued by allegations of corruption and financial misconduct against its president.
FIFA is sending its secretary general Fatma Samoura to lead the African confederation for an initial six-month term starting in August, when she will oversee a complete forensic audit of the organisation.
CAF president Ahmad, who goes by one name, was detained by French authorities while attending a FIFA meeting in Paris this month and questioned.
He was released but is the subject of that criminal investigation and an ethics committee investigation by FIFA, where he is a vice-president.
He has denied the allegations.