Ballon d’Or vote raises eyebrows in Zimbabwe

HARARE – A day after Cristiano Ronaldo was announced the winner of the 2014 World Footballer of the Year Award, otherwise known as the Ballon d’ Or, it turned out that Zimbabwe’s three voters were Charles Mabika, Kalisto Pasuwa and Wisdom Mutasa, who is apparently the Warriors captain.

\n

\n

While it was obvious that Mabika would, as usual be among the voters as the media representative, while Pasuwa as coach of the de facto national football team would also get to vote, it is the decision to have Mutasa vote as national team skipper that appears a peculiar one.

\n

This is not the first time that Zimbabwe’s voting process for the award has raised eyebrows, with then Zifa technical director Nelson Matongorere having voted as then Warriors captain Tapiwa Kapini in 2012, a charge he however denied.

\n

Incidentally, the 209 Fifa member countries are allowed three votes for the Ballon d’Or – one media representative, the senior national team coach and senior national team captain.

\n

Since the Zimbabwe senior national team was disbanded following their failure to qualify for this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, the U23 team, otherwise known as the Young Warriors, have effectively become the de facto national side.

\n

The Young Warriors are captained by Ronald Pfumbidzai, who has also skippered the team last year when they became the de facto national side.

\n

In fact, Pfumbidzayi wore the armband in the Young Warriors’ last match, an international friendly in Morocco which the team lost 1-2 last November.

\n

Yesterday, Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said Mutasa had voted on the basis that he had been assigned by national Under 23 side head coach Kalisto Pasuwa who he said had the prerogative to assign a national skipper at any time he wishes as the national team coach.

\n

“The captain of the national team is Wisdom Mutasa and he had every right to vote in the Ballon d’Or,” said Gwesela.

\n

“As Zifa we do not appoint the captain for the national team as it is the prerogative of the of the head coach to appoint a national team captain at any time he wishes to do so and in this case maybe he (Pasuwa) saw it fit to appoint Mutasa,” he added.

\n

While Pasuwa could not be reached for comment yesterday, statements attributed to the former Dynamos coach which appeared on Zifa’s website: www.zifa.org.zw later that day suggest that Mutasa is actually the national team captain and not Pfumbidzayi.

\n

“Wisdom Mutasa is the current captain of the under 23 team which is currently fulfilling all senior national team duties hence he had every right to vote in the Ballon d’Or as the senior national team captain,” read Pasuwa’s response on the Zifa website.

\n

However, a source close to the voting process by the locals suggested that the statements by Zifa and those attributed to Pasuwa were just an attempt at covering up what really transpired in the Ballon d’Or process, and offered a different version of events.

\n

“It (Mutasa voting) was by virtue of Pfumbidzai being away with the national team (in Morocco) on the day of voting. So since Mutasa, who is also part of the team, had remained behind (in Zimbabwe), he was asked to vote in place of Pfumbidzai, and this was the same the thing with Pasuwa as his vote had to be cast by someone, but to have the name of that particular person would have raised suspicion hence Pasuwa’s name had to be forwarded as the eligible voter,” said the source.

\n

According to information from world football governing body Fifa which oversees the Ballon d’Or, the youthful FC Platinum midfielder voted for Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Eden Hazard in that order.

\n

Veteran journalist Charles Mabika voted for Ronaldo, Messi and Ivory Coast star Yaya Toure, while Pasuwa voted for Ronaldo, Messi and Germany captain Philip Lahm.

\n

Ronaldo garnered 37.66% of the total votes to win the Ballon d’Or award for the third time.