Home » Sports » History Repeats Itself? . . . As Mashingaidze Disowns Letter Sent to Fifa

ZIFA chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze has denied penning a damning letter to FIFA last week seeking protection and calling for the Zurich-based organisation to intervene and stop the Government from dissolving the embattled domestic football leadership.

Mashingaidze said the letter, which was highly-critical of Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister Tabitha Kanengoni-Malinga and was published in The Herald yesterday, did not emerge from his office and accused this newspaper of peddling falsehoods.

“We are utterly baffled that Robson Sharuko (The Herald Senior Sports Editor) has gone overdrive to the extent of manufacturing letters in their newsroom and linking me to the authorship of the said letter.

“We are dismayed that a reputable media house like The Herald would sink that low to forge and fabricate letters.

“We do hereby challenge The Herald to produce the so-called letter, bearing my bona-fide signature, and the alleged electronic mail sent to FIFA.

“We are also amazed that Robson Sharuko never made an effort to contact FIFA to verify whether they received such a letter.

“Therefore, we kindly request The Herald to retract their falsehoods within 24 hours, failure of which we will institute legal proceedings.

“While we respect the watchdog role of the media, we are concerned with the extent to which The Herald has pursued agenda-setting tendencies founded on false allegations without bothering to confirm with the concerned persons.”

Mashingaidze also questioned our story published on Tuesday.

“In a related case, on the 3rd of February, The Herald reported that (the) ZIFA CEO has called for changes in the country’s football leadership and that provincial leaders were summoned to a secret meeting where they were given out of pocket allowances,” he said.

“This is not only false but defamatory hence such allegations should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.

“Neither I nor Dr Cuthbert Dube met with the councillors referred to in the report. Moreover it should be stressed that the President of the association has the right to summon or meet with the councillors to share his vision with them as and whenever he deems fit.

“Who are those councillors, the President met?

“We are aware of the ulterior motives harboured by the local daily publication, but we will not be deterred in our resolve to steer local football to the shores.”

However, The Herald maintained yesterday that it stood by its stories.

“Mashingaidze probably thought that if he sent a PDF file to FIFA, with very sensitive information related to events that have been happening in Zimbabwean football today, such information would never filter into a newsroom and end up in the public domain, as is now the case,” Sharuko said.

“We appreciate that he is a good schemer, and he needs all his scheming skills to navigate his ZIFA boat in the stormy waters triggered by the pressure that has been exerted on him, in particular, and the ZIFA board, in general, in the past few weeks, not by this newspaper but by their principals, including the Sports Commission.

“We have no reason, whatsoever, to plunge into a personal showdown with Mashingaidze that diverts attention from the bigger picture of crucial national issues that are being interrogated, which are more important, and could have a huge bearing on the future of the game in this country.

“We have comfort in the quality of our sources and we have no reason to doubt the information they give us because the reliability of that information has stood the test of time, over the years, and we reiterate that Mashingaidze, indeed, sent a letter last Thursday, and attached the various newspaper cuttings from the domestic media dealing with the fallout between ZIFA and Kanengoni-Malinga.

“We don’t need to remind Mashingaidze that he lodged a complaint with FIFA, in written form, about the quality of our sources and why we were always getting documents that were being generated from Zurich.

“As FIFA moves closer to a presidential election, in a few months time, we appreciate the sensitivity of exposing our sources, which we will not do, and we also acknowledge that associations like ZIFA have turned into golden units who are now key political players in the pending poll and their voice has suddenly started to carry their weight in gold.

“But the underlying point remains that we stand by the authenticity of our story and we won’t retract, even a word or letter of what we produced, and neither are we moved by Mashingaidze’s threats of legal proceedings, and we accept his challenge for a possible court showdown, with all the excitement and drama that it brings.

“We don’t need to remind Mashingaidze that the language in that email that went to FIFA, which was dismissive of Kanengoni-Malinga, was consistent with the way he appears to have a low opinion of women in sport, notably his boardroom battles with ZIFA board member Miriam Sibanda, and his documented view of saying women’s football was petty.

“Neither do we need to remind him that, during the ZIFA board meeting with the Sports Commission on Saturday, someone among our football leaders described Kanengoni-Malinga as a small woman.”

Sharuko reminded Mashingaidze that his reputation, as someone who was described by a former national coach who used to work under his direct supervision, Ian Gorowa, as a “habitual liar”, and by former Mighty Warriors fitness trainer Gerald Maguranyanga, as a “pathological liar”, preceded him when it comes to such issues.

The Herald Senior Sports Editor said if the ZIFA chief executive could lie to his principals at FIFA, three years ago when the world football governing body needed him to deliver certain documents to make a determination on the Asiagate match-fixing saga, there was nothing that could stop him from taking ownership of a document he never believed would spill into the public domain.

In March 2013, after repeated attempts for ZIFA to furnish FIFA with documents, Mashingaidze sent an email to Zurich, upon realising that he had missed the deadline for the delivery of the key documents, telling officials at the world football governing body that he had sent four parcels via DHL.

Four letters were sent from Zurich, from October 2012 to February 2013, to Mashingaidze requesting the ZIFA chief executive to submit the documentary evidence that would have enabled the world football governing body to either endorse or dismiss the sanctions imposed by ZIFA on scores of individuals.

Somehow, Mashingaidze deliberately misled his principals at FIFA, who were dealing with the case, by claiming that he had sent the documents on October 30, 2012, and even quoted non-existent DHL numbers to support his case.

The FIFA officials then challenged Mashingaidze to provide a track record, of the documents that he had sent, which were needed by the world football governing body’s legal and disciplinary committee, to make a determination on the case.

Interestingly, those documents were only sent by Mashingaidze to Zurich in March 2013, a month after the deadline of the delivery had expired, and a week after he had sent his email to FIFA claiming he had delivered the documents four months earlier.

“I am both disappointed that Jonathan (Mashingaidze) lied, all along, that he had sent us the documents on October 30, 2012 when, in fact, the two boxes that we received, on separate dates, were sent on Monday 18 March 2013, arriving three days later,” Octoavian Bivolaru, the Legal Counsel, Disciplinary and Governance of the FIFA Legal Division, said.

Source : The Herald