FIFA’s decision to throw Zimbabwe out of the 2018 World Cup this week provides the biggest statement, if ever we needed one, of the unacceptable rot that has crept into our football.
It highlights the death of our national game, a sport that has been dragged into its grave by a leadership so clueless it has become a national shame.
It’s the culmination of what we have always feared all along, that under the pathetic leadership of Cuthbert Dube, our football was a disaster waiting to happen.
When we ran a series of articles in the past month or so, highlighting the fatal shortcomings of Dube and his leadership and why we believed they were not the best people who could take our football forward, there were some voices who criticised us for running a personal crusade against these men.
We questioned how a man, who is so divorced from the game itself that he has only watched one match, out of 47 internationals featuring the Warriors in the past five years he has led ZIFA, could still be expected to take our football forward.
We questioned how we could surrender the running of our national game to just two men, Dube and his trusted yet blundering chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, when all the evidence pointed to the fact that they were dragging the sport into its grave.
Now, in the wake of FIFA’s decision to throw us out of the 2018 World Cup, we hate to say it that we stand vindicated as we watch what used to be a vibrant sporting discipline, from the days of the Dream Team to our qualification for the 2004 and 2006 Nations Cup finals, being reduced into this shell by a leadership plucked from hell.
Admittedly, Dube did not hire Valinhos, the Brazilian coach whose unpaid dues have now forced FIFA to act and cracked the whip after failing, in the past two years, to get ZIFA to pay what they owed the gaffer.
Dube inherited a problem, and the debt owed to Valinhos, when he took over as the ZIFA president in March 2010.
But he won the ZIFA presidency on the promise that he would not only sort out the challenges that were plaguing the association, including paying off the creditors, and Valinhos was one of them.
That Dube has failed to roll out a payment plan, for the past five years to dissolve a $60 000 debt, is not only outrageous, but an indictment of his leadership qualities.
This is the same man who claims that he has poured more than $800 000 into the game since he became ZIFA boss and if he knew, for the past two years that the future participation of the Warriors in the 2018 World Cup was at stake if something wasn’t done to dissolve Valinhos’ debt, are we wrong to ask what the money he says he has put into our football has been used for?
This is the same man who was paying commissioners from the Anti-Corruption Commission, who had been drafted into the ZIFA Committee that investigated Asiagate, when just a fraction of that amount, deposited into Valinhos’ account, would have convinced FIFA that ZIFA were committed to settling this debt and we wouldn’t be in the mess that we find ourselves in today.
This is the same man who authorised payments to people who investigated the so-called Centralgate, whose findings remain a mystery even to this day, even when he knew that there was a bigger issue that needed to be resolved first.
This is the same man who made sure that, even though our future dance with the World Cup was under threat, made sure that it would not feature on the agenda of the various meetings that his board has held in the past two years.
Instead, this became a secret issue for Dube and Mashingaidze, hidden from the other board members, because this is their game and only them should have knowledge of such sensitive material.
When former ZIFA communications officer, Nicky Dlamini-Moyo challenged her dismissal, won her case and was awarded $10 000 in damages, Mashingaidze and Dube sat on the papers until the debt soared to $100 000 and now they have just lost the artificial surface that FIFA gave us for the future development of our football.
Why do we get the feeling that FIFA have slowly been losing patience with ZIFA, the final straw being the sale of the artificial surface, and that our expulsion from the 2018 World Cup, just two weeks after the turf was sold, suggests there is more to this than Valinhos’ debt.
The tragedy is that Valinhos is not the only coach owed by ZIFA. Soon Norman Mapeza will also be taking his case to FIFA and we won’t be surprised if Sunday Chidzambwa also follows suit.
Then there is the case of Tom Saintfiet whose petition has been in the FIFA corridors for some time now.
One thing is clear, Dube and his leadership team have lost relevance and our suspension from the 2018 World Cup should be the last straw and if they don’t resign then they must be pushed out.