Home » Sports » Sponsors Taking Our Soccer for Granted

There was widespread debate in most places as to whether the $25 000 sponsorship package for the Sino-Zimbabwe Cement Cup warranted two of the top soccer clubs in the country to get into the field and play.

The consensus was that the sponsorship package was too little and it belittled our football.

Why the leadership of the two clubs agreed to play for such a paltry figure also speaks volumes of the sort of football leadership we have in this country.

The sponsors controlled the gates and with close to 30 000 fans who attended the game, one is forced to conclude that the little figures which were gushed out to the teams were recovered through profit from gate takings.

Although the cheapest seat was going for $2, some of the bays were going for as much as $10 and $5 and I have proof of one football fan who paid out $10 to sit not on the VVIP stand, but on the VIP stand.

The two VIP stands were full to capacity.

On that premise, imagine how much was realised from the gates in comparison to how much the clubs received and how much the sponsors forked out.

Add to that, the whole stadium was full of aertising boards of companies which the sponsors were associated with and the clubs never benefitted from that. In reality, the Chinese sponsors got far “too much” compared to the players themselves.

That is not all. I laughed off when one Dynamos fan Tatenda Rodwin Mutoti told me that he paid $10 to sit on the VIP stand, but found no place to sit.

The reason was that the stand was full as the sponsors had also brought everyone from home and from their other business enterprises to come and watch the game for free.

This is one issue I will tackle later as Sino-Zimbabwe Cement are not alone in this. Most of our tournament sponsors tend to believe that the moment they put in money, they control proceedings.

Even security guards have been made to vacate their posts at business premises to come and watch football for free because “I am the one sponsoring the tournament”.

That should not be the case. Sponsors are there to provide funding with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) or the Zifa controlling proceedings, as what Delta Beverages does.

Allowing tournaments with such little financial pickings as $25 000 for clubs and players sets a bad precedence for the future.

How could in future the football family refuse a sponsor who wants CAPS United, Dynamos, FC Platinum and Highlanders to play for $80 000 with $30 000 going to the winners, $20 000 to the runners-up and the semifinalists sharing $15 000? That is far much more than what Sino-Zimbabwe Cement parted with.

Yes, we are trying to make our sponsors happy but we are getting too excited and in the process cheapening our football. Now every Jack and Jill will dangle a $30 000 “sponsorship” package and say, “I want Dynamos and Highlanders to play”.

Premier Soccer League chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele has always been against such tournaments and he has my g backing for his resistance. We should not sell our football for peanuts.

Zimbabwe should learn from Ghana

It was interesting to note that the Black Stars of Ghana received a $76 000 Grand Cherokee vehicle each on top of financial rewards, not for winning the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals but just for reaching the final.

Yet in Zimbabwe, Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and his board member finance, Benard Gwarada, were having their property attached for debts accrued from the Zimbabwe national soccer team’s participation in international football.

Despite their sacrifice for the national team, the government through its ministry of sport was calling for Dube and Gwarada to step down from their posts at the football controlling body.

What I am saying is that just like in Ghana where Tanika Ghana — a private company — donated the 30 Grand Cherokees to the Black Stars, we need more people in Zimbabwe willing to make sacrifices for our national teams in the manner in which Dube and Gwarada have done.

Tanika Ghana, a jeep dealer, made the pledge before the Black Stars left for the Nations Cup, and they have honoured their side of the bargain. The Warriors also need such gestures to motivate them to do better.

More importantly is the fact that the Ghanaian government itself weighed in with $25 000 for each player. But Ghanaians from all walks of life are saying $25 000 coming from their government is little in the wake of the team’s magnificent performance in Equatorial Guinea.

However, half a loaf is better than nothing as upon reflection, our own Warriors received nothing either from the corporate world or from the government for their splendid run at the 2014 African Nations Championships.

We are not told how much the Ghanaian Football Federation rewarded the Black Stars with as, just like Zifa, they might also be swimming in debts.

What we have learnt from the Ghanaian experience is that it is a combination of the corporate world and the government in support of the national football federation that brings success.

The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers are around the corner. Let us follow the Ghanaian example and see whether it will work for us.

Perhaps in that way, we might one day celebrate in the same way the Ghanaians are celebrating.

For comments, views, and suggestions, email mkariati@gmail.com or WhatsApp on 077 3 266 779.

Source : Zimbabwe Standard