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World Cup Expulsion: Promises and lies

SINCE Zimbabwe’s expulsion from the 2018 FIFA World Cup on March 12, this year, domestic football leaders and their principals have knitted an elaborate web of lies, deceiving the nation, and creating false hope that the Warriors will bounce back in the qualifiers.

ZIFA president, Cuthbert Dube
Zifa boss Cuthbert Dube

As late as Wednesday last week, ZIFA president, Cuthbert Dube, still opened a window of hope that there was a possibility that the Warriors would be part of the battles for a place at the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.

However, we revealed yesterday that Zimbabwe’s fate had already been sealed by the time FIFA and CAF met on July 9, about two weeks ago, when the format for the draw of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers for Africa was thrashed out.

The confirmation that the Warriors will not play in the 2018 World Cup, despite repeated assurances from ZIFA and Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa, that the team will be involved in the qualifiers, exposes the sport’s leadership as a group of people who failed their nation.

Questions are also now been asked as to the $65 000 that was released by the Premier Soccer League to help pay Valinhos in March this year.

PSL chief executive, Kenny Ndebele, revealed in March this year that the top-flight league paid the mother body to help them deal with the Valinhos settlement.

“We have realised the problem ZIFA were facing and we have paid the money which is for the outstanding levy from last year as well as player registration and licencing,” Ndebele said.

“We hope it is going to help solve their (Valinhos) problem. We are supporting them in their efforts to solve the problems they are facing.”

Today, we give a timeline of the drama, as it unfolded, since FIFA announced on March 12 that Zimbabwe had been expelled from the 2018 World Cup.

March 12, 2015, FIFA announcement

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee today, 12 March 2015, notified the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) that it was expelled from the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

“The expulsion comes as a result of the non-payment of an outstanding debt by ZIFA to the coach José Claudinei Georgini (Valinhos) following a decision passed on 15 August 2012 by the single judge of FIFA’s Players’ Status Committee.

“As the single judge’s decision was final and binding, and ZIFA did not settle its debt, disciplinary proceedings for failure to respect a decision (in application of Art. 64 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code) were opened against ZIFA upon the request of the coach.

“The FIFA Disciplinary Committee passed a first decision in April 2013, by means of which in particular, and in addition to receiving a fine, ZIFA was granted a 60-day period to settle half of its debt to the coach and a 120-day period to settle the remainder of the debt.

“ZIFA was warned that, if they did not pay within the granted periods, the case would — upon the express written request of the creditor — be resubmitted to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for the possible imposition of harsher sanctions, which could lead to expulsion from a FIFA competition. ZIFA did not appeal the decision.

“In view of the fact that ZIFA did not settle its debt to the coach, and following the request of the coach, the case was presented again before the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, which rendered a second decision. In its decision, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee granted ZIFA a final period of grace of 60 days to settle the debt with Mr Georgini. Additionally, ZIFA was warned that, if the debt was not settled within the granted period (and upon the presentation of a formal claim by the creditor), then, in addition to the imposition of a fine, they would be expelled from the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

“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. 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.”

March 13, 2015, Sports Minister Andrew Langa Responds

“The Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture learnt with great disappointment of the expulsion of the country, represented by ZIFA, from participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. That this came as a result of an apparent bungling by ZIFA makes it more intolerable and repugnant.

“Neither the Sports and Recreation Commission nor the Ministry were made aware of the disciplinary action taken against ZIFA, the result of which was the imposition of a fine and the granting of the grace period to pay the creditor (Mr Jose Claudinei Georgini) his dues.

“ZIFA must accept that it has failed the nation in this regard. The nation continues to endure the effects of administrative inefficiencies without any resolute action being taken to correct the situation.

“While all criticism has mainly been targeted at the ZIFA Board, my Ministry notes that control of the Board vests in the ZIFA Assembly. The latter, therefore, are equally if not more culpable for the goings-on in ZIFA.

“The ZIFA Assembly are the ones who voted the ZIFA Board into office and it is them who can exercise the prerogative to withdraw their mandate, or to take any other concrete action that demonstrates their resolve to ensure that there is professionalism in the administration of our football.

“My Ministry would like to challenge the ZIFA Assembly to reflect on the perennial flaws that characterise their administration of football in the country, as well as on the mood of the nation with regard to the direction they are taking football and take bold and urgent steps to correct the issues.

“At the same time, my Ministry would like to state in no uncertain terms, that it appreciates the anxiety caused by this latest gaffe. My Ministry has instructed the SRC to direct ZIFA to submit a report on the matter in question.

“We would like to know how we came to the current situation and what action ZIFA has taken or intends to take to salvage the situation. We are also exploring the possibility of having the suspension reversed.

“Finally, my Ministry would like to assure the general soccer loving public and the entire nation at large, that we will do our best to ensure that the situation in our football is brought to normalcy.

“ It may not happen overnight but it will certainly happen.

“As Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, I have summoned ZIFA and SRC to a meeting next week to deliberate on these and other issues in an effort to try and resolve these burning issues concerning our beautiful game of football.”

March 19, 2015, Langa Says ‘World Cup Ban Will Be Lifted’

“We met with ZIFA Board this morning (and) we directed as a Ministry that the ZIFA Board should put its house in order and ensure that we pay Valinhos.

“I have also directed the Sports Commission to work closely with ZIFA to ensure that we raise $67 000, plus interest, within the next two weeks.

“My Ministry will also ensure that we will assist in raising this money so that Zimbabwe is reinstated into the World Cup draw which will be done in July. I have the creditors list here in my office, those people owed by ZIFA, unfortunately the Valinhos name is not there on the list I have.

“If we had known about Valinhos we would have made some attempts to assist here and there. But, unfortunately, my office and the Sports Commission only learnt about Valinhos on Thursday when Zimbabwe was expelled.

“I would want to assure Zimbabweans that we will certainly pay this debt and Zimbabwe would be reinstated. I want to agree with Zimbabweans that the expulsion of Zimbabwe is an embarrassment to all Zimbabweans.”

March 13, 2015, ZIFA CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze Talks To B-Metro

“The Association has already engaged Valinhos lawyers and we are optimistic that we will extinguish the pending debt at the earliest time possible.

“ZIFA would like to inform the football fraternity and the nation at large that it is working around the clock to ensure that Zimbabwe is reinstated to participate in the preliminary qualifying round of the Russia 2018 World Cup.”

April, 2015, Mashingaidze Addresses ZIFA Councillors

“The Zimbabwe Football Association hereby informs all members of the ZIFA Assembly that the Annual Meeting set for the 25th April 2015 has been postponed to the 27th of June 2015.

“The postponement has been caused by the financial constraints currently obtaining as well as the pressing national commitments. The Association has the following obligations to service:

Settlement in full of former National Team Coach, Mr Jose Georgini ‘Valinhos’ debt the mid-May 2015. Mr Valinhos is owed Eighty One Thousand Dollars ($81 000).

Servicing of former National Team Coach Mr Tom Saintfiet’s debt beginning end of April 2015. ZIFA owes the (former) National Team Coach One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars ($150 000).”

Wednesday July 15, 2015, ZIFA president Cuthbert Dube still hopeful

“I don’t want to talk about that here but between today and tomorrow we will be able to know if it is over for us in this campaign.

“We are currently looking for money and if we get it we will pay,” he said.

Of course, by then, the die had already been cast. The Herald