The State of football in Zimbabwe (article found on www.zifa.org.zw in 2013)

ZIMBABWE FOOTBALL  ASSOCIATION

 STATEMENT ON THE STATE OF FOOTBALL  IN ZIMBABWE AS AT 3RD JULY 2013

 The game of football is the nation’s number one (1) sport w hose mass appeal over the years has not been matched by the resources supporting football. Our game’s potential f or grow th has been hamstrung by LACK OF RESOURCES and it takes the entire family of football’s efforts to afford the game of football the opportunity to realise its full potential. The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to bare it all in terms of w here our football is and the way forward.

 Blame games have characterised the present discourse among members of the family of football. There have been deafening sounds coming from all corners of our social strata calling f or the present football leadership to make way f or new crew . The calls f or the resignation or dismissal of the current football leadership have their ow n misgivings given the f act that the calls are coming from public that assumes that all is w ell in terms of funding of football. Hiring and firing personnel without addressing the fundamental problems hounding football, will be a wild goose chase. Asking the present ZIFA leadership to step down is not the solution. Issues around football’s growth need be addressed holistically.

 

The Zimbabwe Football Association turned fifty (50) years in May 2013 and a glance at the past brings to f ore the games chequered history. Zimbabwean Football has up to 2000 been replete with mixed fortunes in terms of performance deliverables. The Football landscape in Zimbabwe has prior to and soon after independence, seen Government, local authorities, individuals and corporate bodies funding clubs, leagues, tournaments and national Teams. The funding model then obtaining allow ed the game to have success stories which w ill forever be part of the football folklore, clubs, representative teams and National Teams, distinguished themselves in their various assignments, locally, regionally, continentally and out of Africa.

 

Triumphs by our Teams w ere made possible through the material, financial and human resources invested in football by football’s partners. Partners tripped after each other in a scramble f or strategic positioning within football. It w as not only funding that made football succeed. Football w as in the hands of astute, dedicated, visionary, honest and patriotic men and w omen. Support from the corporate section is only possible through transparency, accountability and dedication of the football leadership. Corporate support is earned through hard work and honesty.

 

The CECAFA, COSAFA titles, appearance at the African Cup of Nations, to mention but a few w ill always remind Zimbabweans of the potential this nation has in terms of excellence.

 

Sponsors and Central Government the world over fund football and naturally they demand accountability and results. Football Associations from Africa, w ho have accounted and show n results f or the support they got from Government and the Corporate world comprise the likes of Cameroon, Zambia, Botswana, Ghana, Nigeria, Malawi, South Africa, to mention but a few . Former football lightweights have done w ell, thanks to support from Government and the corporate world.

 

The Zimbabwe Football Association in 2004 got a special fund from Government to service debts which had accrued since 2000. The special fund w as administered by Government to service the debts which had been hanging around football’s neck like an albatross. Government went on to fund the Senior National Team’s 2004 and 2006 African Cup of Nations Campaigns leading to the Senior National Team’s qualification f or the finals for two (2) Continental Championships. The 2006 plebiscite ushered a new era, which saw funding dissipating. The ZIFA Board which took over in March 2006, assumed  the reins against the background of a sound financial background, having inherited close to US $ 500 000.00. The 2006 era then ushered in a new dispensation

which saw Government and Corporate partners withdrawing their support owing to varied reasons.

 

 

The past 2006 era saw the Association sinking to scary depths owing to a number of f actors. The economic meltdown constricted the Association’s revenue streams. No sooner had the economic meltdown had its toll on Zimbabwe’s entire strata, than the game began to be susceptible to corruption and general bad governance.

 

The National Teams w ere turned into dirty money-making units as the Teams w ere made to play to lose matches f or money coming from match fixing and illegal betting syndicates. National pride and patriotism became a scarce commodity as corrupt and self -servicing officials of the Association took the National Teams to various destinations which hosted “fixed” matches. The Senior National Teams’ CAF and FIFA rankings plummeted to record low levels and strangely enough there w as def eating silence from the family of football. Match fixing became fashionable as football officials and some members of the media connived in sending the National Team to money games in Asia and some parts of Africa. The local match-fixers went on to conscript local clubs into match fixing scandals by encouraging the clubs to earn money by throwing matches.

 

One club which had in its midst  a ZIFA Board member and a member of the media w ho w as also doubling as an executive committee member, w as sent to Asia masquerading as the Senior

National Men’s Team. No one raised alarm, save for a few media houses.

 

The effects of the Asiagate Scandal w ere evident as show n by the National Teams performances. Players w ere making outrageous demands ahead of matches and consequently the National Team brand w as torn into shreds.

 

Corruption w as entrenched into local football as evidenced by the misappropriation of funds for development and theft of football equipment and general extortion. Equipment meant f or grassroots development w as stolen by a ZIFA employee and no one at ZIFA could stop the corruption since “it w as corrupt not to be corrupt at ZIFA”. Seed equipment from the Reserve Bank w as converted to personal use by some of ZIFA officials, one of which is still holding on to some the assets. Development programs w ere choked by the plundering of resources. Area zones and districts w ere neglected to a point w here no one w anted to mention such structures. Resources meant f or the FIFA Goal Projects w ere misused by corrupt officials with nothing to show f or FIFA’s investment in Zimbabwean football. The ZIFA Village remained a forlorn and dilapidated structure despite the millions that FIFA had allocated Zimbabwe under the Goal Project. “Lootocracy” descended on the local game as looters helped themselves to the Association resources with reckless abandon.

 

Factionalism w as allow ed to rear its ugly head by self -servicing and corrupt football officials. Factionalism saw the family of football divided into warring parties which worked round the clock to disfigure football. The f actions wrestled f or control of Zimbabwean football for personal gains. Some self styled supporters w ere also recruited to drive the f actions’ turf war campaigns in return f or money.

 

Media patronage saw some sections of the media recruited into the anti-corruption busting campaign in return f or dirty money. One media house’s sports editor w as turned into the spin doctor f or the corrupt football officials. Some media houses saw No evil, spoke No evil and heard No evil as they lined their pockets with lucre.

 

Enter the current ZIFA Board  – The Football landscape w as on f ire in 2010 and the current Board had to contend with a host of challenges some of which still haunt ZIFA to date. There w as no hand-over-take over between the outgoing and incoming Board. In the absence of the handover takeover, the current Board had to grope in darkness f or solutions to problems hounding football.

 

ZIFA had a debt of Two Million United States Dollars (US $ 2 000 000.00) which only came to the surf ace later on in 2010. Some of the debts had been inflated by the service providers working in cahoots with some ZIFA employees. Ghost service providers w ere also included on the list of service providers ow ed by ZIFA. A former National Coach joined the bandwagon of inflated

bills after having been promised to share the difference with a ZIFA employee w ho has since been dismissed.

 

 

The Zimbabw e-Brazil match left ZIFA with a One (1) Million United States dollar debt to Kentaro, the match agent for Brazil. Proceeds from the high profile match w ere pocketed by a ZIFA Official and some out of ZIFA officials.

 

ZIFA’s image w as at its worst as the Association w as perceived as an institution which had no respect f or good corporate governance. The Association had come to symbolise corruption. The Asiagate Scandal had eaten into the marrow of the Association over a period of f our (4) years. The Scandal impacted negatively on any attempt to have a strong National Teams portfolio. Development structures w ere nonexistent as no efforts w ere made to create a development pathway f or local football as the Association had been engrossed in money games in Asia.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets allocated to Zimbabwe w ere surreptitiously disposed of f without ZIFA’s know ledge. Once the tickets w ere sold out the former ZIFA CEO bought tickets worthy US $ 24 000.00 f or non football officials and ZIFA is yet to get dividends from the sale of the tickets.

 

The secretariat w as packed with staff that had their loyalties with certain football and non football officials. The secretariat w as operating as a quasi-the ZIFA Board to an extent that the former Board w as literally reporting to the secretariat instead of the other way round.

 

General corporate governance structures had been collapsed by individuals and our Board had to embark on a cleanup and restructuring campaign to bring back order.

 

 

The National Teams w ere a bunch of mercenaries and the Board only realised that there w as no National Team to talk about as a result of the Asiagate Scandal midstream through the 2012

African Cup of Nations campaign. Government and Corporate partners withdrew their support f or National Teams once the Asiagate Scandal investigations got underway. The Board had to go back to the drawing back championing the rebuilding crusade f or National Teams. The impact of the Asiagate Scandal shall no doubt be felt over the next three (3) to five (5) years and the Association should prepare to walk the rough rehabilitation route.

 

All things good and bad, having been said, there is need f or a way forward. The Association is desirous to see the Asiagate Scandal brought to finality. ZIFA shall take no prisoners w hen it comes to match fixing and illegal betting. Cleaning up of football shall continue until the game of football has no specks.

 

Restructuring of the Association shall be an ongoing engagement as the Association is repositioning itself . The ZIFA Constitution shall be observed to the letter if ZIFA is to come out of the woods.

Media and Football have to reengage each other since both organisations have a lot to gain by working together than fighting each other. Standing Committees have to be reconstructed and be manned by competent men and w omen.

National Teams have to be resourced by Government and sponsors. Football Associations the world over have their National Teams fully funded by Government and the corporate sector. A

glance at our 2014 FIFA World Cup Campaign reveals that Egypt, Guinea and Mozambique Football Association receive direct sponsorship and funding from Treasury and blue chip companies

who have a every right at the end of the day to demand f or results. The Zimbabwe Football Association w as the only one w hose National Teams are funded by individuals and a few corporate bodies.  Had it not been f or ZIFA President Dr Cuthbert E Dube’s benevolence, ZIFA would be history. ZIFA needs a long lasting solution to the financial woes around the servicing of football’s portfolios. ZIFA appreciates Government’s constraints to do with resources but w ill continue urging Government to create an enabling environment f or sponsorship and funding of football through incentives f or corporate bodies.

 

The Zimbabwe Football Association is committed to seeing f football reach greater heights and hence our establishment of the Football’s Trust w hose eminent members shall work round the clock in unlocking value for football. We urge all Zimbabweans to support “Dollar f or Football Project” which shall be administered through Football Trust. We shall not abdicate from our responsibility of growing football.

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