Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
FIFA funds meant to reimburse local referees for the fees they paid for courses conducted by the world football governing body here have ended up being swallowed by ZIFA’s ocean of debt in what has been a systematic exploitation of the match officials.
The domestic referees were also asked to provide ZIFA with an unsecured loan of US 000 in May last year to help foot the costs of the Warriors’ trip to Tanzania for a 2015 Nations Cup qualifier and eight months down the line, that money hasn’t been paid back.
Although ZIFA received their US0 000 payment after the Warriors finished fourth at the 2014 CHAN finals in South Africa last year, the association did not pay the referees their US 000 and the loan remains unsettled to this day. That ZIFA could stoop so low, to secure a loan from referees, just shows how the ethics of corporate governance have been thrown out of the window at 53 Livingstone Avenue, given that it compromises the association who are supposed to be supervising and in other cases, sanctioning the referees when they go offside.
This abnormal relationship gives weight to reports that teams in the ZIFA Southern Region Division One league were also asked, in the past few years, to contribute towards the cost of running the association and two of the clubs ended up being crowned champions and grabbing a ticket into the Premiership.
The ZIFA Referees Committee yesterday said funds released by FIFA which were scheduled to reimburse their members for money they paid for courses conducted by the world football governing body in this country, ended up being chewed by the association’s debt.
Tendai Bwanya, the ZIFA Referees Committee secretary-general was reacting to a report in The Herald last week which suggested that his members were levied a whopping US million last year and a huge chunk of that money could have filtered into the pockets of officials and cannot be accounted for.
Documents given to this newspaper showed that exactly US 092 446 was generated from the country’s referees last year alone, from the Fifa accredited to the lowly Class IV match officials, through affiliation and fees for referees courses.
The documents showed that US0 608 was paid by the country’s referees last year in affiliation fees alone into the ZIFA Referees Committee and when the courses fees are added, it brought the total of what they paid, in just the past 12 months alone to US 092 446.
Yesterday, the ZIFA Referees Committee released their response to the article carried in this newspaper and their statement made some interesting reading.
“Fifa organises a course for each Member Association per year. However, Fifa does not pay in advance, but will only refund through claims made after the course has been held,” Bwanya said in his statement.
“Since ZIFA is unable to fund these courses, the referees are called upon to pay the course fees with a view of having them refunded once Fifa pays back the money.
“Claims are submitted to Fifa after the Fifa/Member Association Course and the money is duly paid into the ZIFA Account.
“The amount is then swallowed by the ZIFA overdraft. The Referees Committee has never received any such funds claimed from Fifa. Therefore, by the end of the day, referees only benefit from the kit that is supplied by Fifa.”
Bwanya said they have been forced to levy their members, to cover the costs of the local courses, because ZIFA did not have money to do that.
“As you are aware, our National association is faced with serious financial challenges and hence, cannot, at the moment, fund any Referee Development Programmes,” said Bwanya in his statement.
“It is, therefore, the responsibility of the individual referees to finance their own development. Needless to say that this training and development is mandated by Fifa and each National Association should ensure that its referees are trained in order for them to be recognised.
“The monies that are collected from the Referees and Commissioners for various courses are used among other things for — accommodation, catering, refreshments, stationery, hiring of venues, ambulance services, sports grounds, instructors allowances.
“Referees are charged course fees of — ZIFA Panel — US0 (including accommodation), Class 1 — US (accommodation and meals US), Class 2 — US$ 40, Class 3 and 4 — US$ 20/US.
“The charges varies depending on the facilities and number of referees at different provinces and the nature of the courses i.e. amendments to the Laws of the Game. (The) 2015 Registration Fees are FIFA Panel Referees — US0, ZIFA Panel Referees — US0, Class 1 Referees — US$ 100, Class 2 Referees — US$ 50, Class 3 Referees — US, Class 4 Referees — US, PSL Match Commissioners — US0, Div. 1 Match Commissioners — US, International Match Commissioners — US0.”
Bwanya also said that they were asked by ZIFA to extend them a US 000 unsecured loan, last year, to help foot the costs of the Warriors’ trip to Tanzania for a 2015 Nations Cup qualifier, and up to now that money is still to be repaid. He said the number of referees on their register was 790 and not the 1 200 mentioned in this newspaper.
ZIFA REFEREES COMMITTEE 2014 RECEIPTS AND PAYMENTS ACCOUNT
DETAILS RECEIPTS PAYMENTS
INCOME FROM COURSE FEES (US$ 105 695.00
DONATION FROM LOBELS 4 000.00
TOTAL 109 695.00
Accommodation 31 600.00
Meals 26 498.89
Facilitators Allowances 43 200.00
Hire of Venues 3 200.00
Fuel (Transport) 2 400.00
Hire of Equipment (Projectors, Generators & PA Systems) 1 800.00
Water/Refreshments 1 900.00
Printing &Stationery 862.00
Ambulance Services 1 000.00
Doctors Services (Referees Medical Check Ups) 2 100.00
TOTAL 115 236.89
Shortfall (Financed by affiliation fees) (5 541.89)
Senior Sports Editor’s Note – THE BREAKDOWN PRESENTED BY THE ZIFA REFEREES COMMITTEE STRANGELY DOES NOT INCLUDE THE US 000 THAT THEY SAY THEY LOANED ZIFA FOR THE TRIP TO TANZANIA