Wicknell Chivayo to pay $180 000 of Zifa debt
By Takudzwa Chitsiga
Just over two weeks into office, ZIFA have moved to start offsetting their crippling debt with the association’s president Philip Chiyangwa yesterday securing a crucial million-dollar sponsorship deal that should ease the broke soccer mother body’s woes.
Chiyangwa completed a hectic day in office which began with an emergency ZIFA board meeting by signing the massive deal in which Harare businessman Wicknell Chivayo pledged to clear some of ZIFA’s debts starting with the $180 000 that is owed to Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet.
ZIFA have been racing against time after FIFA gave them until January 4 to pay off Saintfiet for his one-day stint as Warriors coach or risk having Zimbabwe expelled from the 2022 World Cup qualifying draw.
The deal ended a tumultuous week for ZIFA in which the association’s reputation had taken another battering following their outrageous and ill-timed decision to fire current Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa and disband the senior team’s training camp for the African Nations Championships. With time running out on ZIFA to show commitment to expunging the Saintfiet debt, the association through its leader moved swiftly to mobilise resources and avert another World Cup ban.
FIFA in July threw Zimbabwe out of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers after ZIFA failed to pay Brazilian coach Valinhos his outstanding salaries.
Chiyangwa and Chivayo flanked by ZIFA board members yesterday allayed fears that the Saintfiet debacle would degenerate into another fiasco similar to that of Valinhos.
Chivayo revealed that as part of the deal, they had wired an initial $50 000 to Saintfiet’s lawyers with another second tranche of a similar amount set to be transferred to the Belgian before a third payment of $80 000 is made.
Chiyangwa said the sponsorship was also a culmination of a pledge to assist financially that Chivayo had made when he was campaigning to be ZIFA president.
The ZIFA boss said he was optimistic of “bigger things to come’’ the association’s way.
“During the time I was campaigning for the post several people pledged to support me if I won and these are some of the pledges that are coming now. The first transaction of $50 000 was done this afternoon (yesterday) and I will request another one in mid-January with another $80 000 coming in March. Some of the money we will use it to pay Tom Saintfiet so that we will be able to take part in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
“We are grateful for the gesture and we hope the money will go a long way,’’ Chiyangwa said.
Chiyangwa also said part of the sponsorship deal which is spread across his tenure which ends in 2018, would be used for development of the game.
“We will use some of the money to engage schools for development and we wish to construct stadiums for sports like beach soccer. We will use the money wisely,” Chiyangwa said.
Chivayo on the other hand said he is honouring his promise which he pledged to Chiyangwa.
“We are trying our best to see that the sport improve and I am humbled to honour my promise to ZIFA.
“We will continue to support ZIFA whenever we can and we will release the money upon request from Dr. Chiyangwa,” Chivayo said.
ZIFA are battling to clear a crippling debt that has been put at $6 million and the association’s officials have already met with international firm KPMG to prepare the groundwork for a forensic audit that will ascertain the true picture of how much is owed t various creditors including Saintfiet.
The Belgian conducted just a day’s training with the Warriors before he was deported for rushing to work without a work permit.
But thanks to the sponsorship deal sealed in the capital yesterday, the Warriors can relive their dream of taking a crack at World Cup qualification. It also emerged later last night that part of the deal would also see the sponsorship package covering the resumption of the Warriors CHAN camp as well as paying off Pasuwa some of his outstanding salaries. The Herald