By Robson Sharuko
Zdravko Logarusic is likely to spend the first half, of his time in charge of the Warriors, without guiding the senior national football team in any official assignment.
Under normal circumstances the Croat, who signed a two-year contract with ZIFA in January, would have already taken charge of the Warriors in, at least, five matches — two back-to-back 2021 AFCON qualifiers and three 2020 CHAN finals group games.
But, international football has been halted by the coronavirus outbreak, which has seen countries close their borders and passenger airlines grounded, except for special circumstances.
And, with the latest signals from authorities suggesting the international matches could only resume from January next year, it could mean Loga’s first half of his time, as Warriors coach, might pass without him plunging into action.
Victor Montagliani, the Canadian heading a FIFA working group looking at how best world football could deal with the Covid-19 crisis, believes the September, October and November windows for national team matches could be scrapped this year.
“I personally think that might be a bit of a challenge, not so much because of just the health issues around the world and the various degrees of preparedness, but also committing to international travel as soon as we come back,” Montagliani told the Associated Press.
“I think that domestic football is a priority. September is still in the books, but I would garner to say that I’m not sure it’s there on solid ground the way things are trending right now.’’
Loga earns US$7 000 a month and could have pocketed about US$84 000 by the time he takes charge of his first assignment.
ZIFA president Felton Kamambo has already revealed they have been regularly paying Loga his salary.
“We want the coach to concentrate on doing his job, hence the move to ensure that his salary is paid long before it’s due,’’ Kamambo told our television channel, Zimpapers Television Network, earlier this month.
“I believe we have done our best to take care of the coach and we are glad that Loga appreciates the effort. He is determined to take the Warriors to unprecedented levels and, as ZIFA, we are fired up as well.’’
It’s likely ZIFA have been using part of the US$1 million FIFA annual grant, whose second and final batch is set to be released into their coffers soon, to service Loga’s financial requirements during this challenging phase.
The country’s football chiefs have also applied for a US$2 million bailout from FIFA, to help the domestic national game deal with the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of other FAs around the world, including those in Europe who are usually in very stable financial standing, have also applied for a similar bailout from the world football governing body.
“FIFA is working on possibilities to provide assistance to the football community around the world after making a comprehensive assessment of the financial impact this pandemic will have on football,’’ FIFA said.
“The football community around the world is experiencing, to a greater or lesser extent, serious financial problems on account of the coronavirus outbreak.
“This threatens to disrupt and impair the ability of FIFA’s member associations and other football organisations, such as leagues and clubs to develop, finance and run football activities at all levels of the game, including professional, non-professional, youth and grassroots.’’
There has been confusion between the bailout fund, which FIFA are working on to try and mitigate the Covid-19 effects among their members, including football clubs and the players themselves, and the annual US$1 million grants which the associations receive from their global mother body.
The confusion heightened in the past few days when some people mistakenly assumed the US$500 000, which are being injected into the coffers of the 211 FAs around the world, were meant for the Covid-19 fight and the money needed to be channelled into various branches, including the top-flight leagues.
The reality is that this is the traditional financial injection, which was supposed to be allocated to the FAs in July to cover their operational costs as part of the FIFA Forward 2.0 programme which, among other things, places an emphasis on the development of women and youth football.
The only difference this year is that the payment of the grant has been brought forward, by about three months to help the FAs, many of whom have been badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, while FIFA also shift their focus towards coming up with the huge bailout.
The Football Association of Zambia, whose Chipolopolo are in the same 2021 AFCON qualifier group with the Warriors, were this week also forced to issue a statement, to clarify the US$500 000 cash injection coming into their coffers this week.
“FAZ has noted that the announced US$500 000 has been misinterpreted for support to local clubs as part of the Covid-19 mitigation measure,’’ FAZ general secretary Adrian Kashala said in a statement.
“However, the correct position is that FIFA under its FIFA Forward 2.0 Football Development Programme provides to all member associations US$1 000 000 Operations Funding, that is disbursed in two equal instalments annually as part of the FIFA support to all members.
“The first batch amounting to US$500 000 is received at the beginning of every year while the second batch amounting to US$500 000 is disbursed in July every year after an audit by FIFA and so subject to a member association meeting set developmental criteria.
“The reported US$500 000 funding by FIFA to all member associations is therefore funding for the second batch that in addition shall come with any carry over disbursements from 2019. We are glad to report that FAZ met all the set developmental criteria for 2019 and shall therefore not receive any carry-over funds from 2019.
“FIFA has clearly stated that the funds will be subject to audit as is customary under the FIFA Forward 2.0 Programme.’’
Just like their counterparts at ZIFA and the South African Football Association, FAZ have also turned to FIFA to provide them with a bailout package to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.
“FAZ, however, has commenced the process of applying for a relief package available from FIFA for members to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19,’’ the association said in their statement.
“In this regard, FAZ has requested clubs to avail information regarding income loss projections in the remaining matches of the season and come up with a reflective picture of the situation.’’ The Herald