Home » Sports » We’re At an All-Time Low [opinion]

THAT our football is in a mess of immense proportion is something that is now common cause and we appreciate the media’s efforts to throw the debate about the shambolic state of our national game into the public domain.We can debate about why we find ourselves in this very sorry and pathetic state but one thing that we all agree is that our situation cannot, and has never, been worse than this.

Our once proud Warriors only remain but in name — down in rankings, coachless and who are the players who make up the team by the way?

Our Mighty Warriors, where are they heading to, when we talk about our junior national teams, we now begin with the phrase “once upon a time . . . ”

We fully understand Government’s frustration with ZIFA. Who wouldn’t? After all, we now have a fully-fledged Ministry to look after Sport and, therefore, the miserable state our football finds itself in is, simply but, JUST UNACCEPTABLE.

We hear the call by the Sport, Arts and Culture Deputy Minister (Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga) in the Monday, February 2, 2015 edition of The Herald, headlined “Malinga pile on the pressure”, where she is quoted saying, “so, I am hoping that as we move on in the right direction, everyone who sees there is need to move things should come on board . . . ”

The Deputy Minister’s response, in Parliament on stern action needing to be taken on ZIFA, was in response to my question on Government’s position on the state of football in our country.

Now that this debate is out of the confines of Parliament and, heeding the Deputy Minister’s call, I feel compelled to contribute to the debate in the hope that the football community embraces the opportunity to freely, and fairly, discuss this very important matter.

This said, we read with no surprise, FIFA’s warning to ZIFA on the ramifications of Government’s supposed intervention in football matters.

The statement from FIFA was expected — they would have sent the same warning to Germany or Azerbaijan, it is the standard warning and so is the breakdown of the possible sanctions that could be meted.

I am convinced that our Government and FIFA have a healthy and mutually respectful relationship that is bigger than the egos and selfish positions, be they of the ZIFA president andor members of the ZIFA Council.

The media has been at pains chronicling ZIFA and Cuthbert Dube’s recorded failure in running our football.

The football people which Dube is quoted as choosing to call “people of the streets”, have in unison called for his graceful resignation.

I have no doubt that Dube has probably meant well, what with so much of his “personal wealth”, we call it the children’s inheritance, which he is said to have pumped into football.

But what is not in dispute, and can never be, is that — under his stewardship — Zimbabwean football has sunk to an all-time low.

Do I hear somebody saying “Thank you but no thank you to Mr Dube?”

The so-called “people from the street” hope that one day sanity will prevail and ZIFA will turn a new leaf.

ZIFA, with a debt overhang of US$6 million, is insolvent.

Recently we have read of attempts to spin the figure to US$4 million. Regardless, the Association is insolvent.

ZIFA’s continued financial transactions with other organisations, and companies in this country, clearly exposes those firms and entities.

I am convinced the Government has no intentions of running ZIFA andor interfering in the way football is run in this country.

HOWEVER, SHOULD ONE, TWO OR SEVERAL OF ZIFA’s CREDITORS CALL FOR ITS LIQUIDATION, AND THE APPOINTMENT OF A JUDICIAL MANAGER IN THE INTERIM, SURELY, THIS CAN NEVER BE MISCONTRUED TO BE GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION.

ZIFA’s creditors have a right at law to be protected by the country’s judiciary system.

The creditors gave a service to ZIFA in good faith and in a normal business transaction. The creditors have a right to be paid. Our laws, just like laws in other countries, are very clear on creditordebtor relationships.

As things stand, ZIFA simply has no capacity to pay off its debts.

If ZIFA has well-wishers, locally and internationally, Mr Dube included, who can settle the debts, then by all means, let it be done quickly, failing which I humbly submit the following for the football community’s debate:

a) That at least one of ZIFA’s creditors petition the courts for its compulsory liquidation and the appointment of a Judicial Manager

b) The Judicial Manager, so appointed, should engage FIFA in pursuing options to fund and reconstruct ZIFA

c) That ZIFA Board members and Councillors be appraised of the implications of specification with regards to the people at the helm of liquidated organisations

We fully understand that FIFA does not condone Government interference with football structures, and in the same vein, we are fully aware that FIFA implores all its affiliates to work within the confines of their host country’s laws.

FIFA will be the first to ask ZIFA to comply with our country’s laws.

I hope this contribution, and those of others to come, will not only fuel debate but help our football move forward.

I also hope that as the debate develops, the ZIFA president, Board Members and Councillors go through introspection, refrain from personalising the issues, agree to do the right things, for our people, the nation and the beautiful game.

If it is this is time to call, then let’s call the time.

– Tapiwa Matangaidze is the MP (Zanu-PF) for Shurugwi South constituency, and was chairman of the Premier Soccer League from 2006-2010.

Source : The Herald

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