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Fifa take first steps to try and resolve Zim football crisis

FIFA believe a solution could still be found to the crisis engulfing Zimbabwe football and have opened an avenue for dialogue between Zifa president Felton Kamambo and Cosafa boss, Philip Chiyangwa.

Felton Kamambo
Felton Kamambo

The world governing body last week rejected a call from the Sports Commission to dissolve the Zifa board and replace it with a normalisation committee.

But, just days after Fifa provided Zifa with a reprieve, matters came to a head on Sunday when the Mighty Warriors boycotted their Olympic qualifier against Zambia at the National Sports Stadium.

The Mighty Warriors, who featured at the last Olympic Games in Brazil, have been complaining that they have been getting a raw treatment from Zifa.

Much of their disillusionment is centred on the non-payment of their dues.

Fifa, however, still believe the situation in Zimbabwean football could be salvaged and yesterday opened a pathway of dialogue between Kamambo and his predecessor, Chiyangwa.

A senior Fifa official contacted both Kamambo and Chiyangwa yesterday to lay the ground for the two to meet and discuss the challenges that have crippled domestic football.

This was a follow-up to a statement released by Cosafa general secretary, Sue Destombes, on Monday in which she said Chiyangwa was mandated to find, in consultation with the Sports Commission and the Government of Zimbabwe, a lasting solution to the problems bedevilling domestic football.

Chiyangwa might have fallen out with the current Zifa leaders, who tried to ban him from the game, but retains the confidence of Fifa as a key player in the game’s administration in the region.

‘‘The starting point, according to Fifa, is that Kamambo and Chiyangwa should open lines of communication and they believe that will send powerful, and positive, signals in the game,’’ sources said.

‘‘Fifa were in touch with both Kamambo and Chiyangwa today (yesterday) to clear a path for the two to discuss the challenges affecting the game.

Yesterday, Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister, Kirsty Coventry, says she has had enough of women’s sport not being taken seriously following the embarrassing events at the weekend.

“I asked the Zifa chair for a meeting to discuss the women’s qualifying debacle on Sunday, he proceeded to ask Govt (Government) for money for the men’s team to travel tomorrow!’’ Coventry tweeted.

‘‘I have had enough of women sport not being taken seriously in Zimbabwe. #EqualityInSport #WomenInSport.

“Gvt took on #ZimCricket debt but told not to interfere. #ZIFA once again ask for more money but Gvt told not to interfere. This is tax payers money you are ‘playing’ with!

‘‘Both these associations get huge amounts of money from their international federations – where is it?

“Asking for money alone is not asking for help. You need help in restructuring everything from the ground up and I have been willing and ready (from the beginning) to work with @CAF_Online and @FIFAcom and @ICC and any other organisation to make Zimbabwe a Sporting Powerhouse.”

Zifa yesterday said they were waiting for Fifa’s decision on the fate of the game which was not played.

“The Zimbabwe Football Association hereby informs the nation that the Women Olympic Qualifier match between Zimbabwe and Zambia was called off by (Fifa) after it became apparent that the Football Association of Zambia was not agreeable to our request to reschedule the match to 2 September 2019.

“The final decision on the two-legged qualifier will be pronounced by Fifa in due course and the nation will be advised accordingly.

“This eventuality emanated from the withdrawal of players from the Mighty Warriors camp at 2300 hrs on the eve of the match by Black Rhinos Queens FC, Blue Swallows Queens FC and Correctional Services Queens FC respectively.

‘‘Herentals Queens FC later withdrew their players on the day of the match.

“It must be noted that Zifa paid allowances in advance and in full for the first leg which was played in Zambia.

“There was a written commitment by the team’s leadership that the team would fulfil both matches against Zambia.

“It was also verbally agreed that Zifa would meet the women’s football leadership on 7 September and discuss the issue of allowances for the Cosafa tournament.

‘‘Efforts were already underway to raise funds to pay players all their outstanding allowances,” Zifa said in a statement. The Chronicle