Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
JUST two days after his election as Premier Soccer League chairman, Farai Jere rolled out the red carpet for ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa at the top-flight league’s offices last night, where the two parties agreed to bury the hatchet and work together for the good of the game.
The CAPS United boss campaigned on the promise of ending the feud between ZIFA and the PSL, which has transformed the domestic game into a toxic sport, saying a lot of time was being spent on the boardroom wrangles instead of developing the game.
And, after winning the right to be the substantive PSL chairman for the next four years, Jere delivered on his promise when he invited Chiyangwa to visit the top-flight league’s offices in Harare for the first time since he became ZIFA boss in a symbolic show of solidarity.
Chiyangwa was accompanied by his deputy Omega Sibanda, while Jere was in the company of the PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele at the meeting which dragged on for more than two hours last night, with both parties emerging from it shaking hands.
“We had to move fast because the sponsors are tired of these boardroom wars and the negativity that they generate in the newspapers and other media platforms and they want to see us delivering on our promise to make a difference,’’ Jere said.
“During my campaign, I made it clear to the clubs that this war, or whatever we call it, with ZIFA was not necessary and it was dragging us backwards at a time when we have bigger challenges to deal with which need our undivided attention.
“I said that it will be a thing of the past and there must be mutual respect from ZIFA that we are an entity that have to run their affairs the way we believe will provide a dividend to our membership without being bullied and also, crucially, while also recognising them as the mother body in the game in this country.
“That is why I invited the ZIFA president and his deputy to come to our offices so that we could share some notes and try and reach out to each other, see exactly where we were having issues and try and find solutions to those challenges.
“I am glad that the meeting went very well and there was a lot of respect from either side, and we both shared the vision that football should be the ultimate winner and the game needed us to be leading it to a better future rather than flexing our boardroom muscles while pulling it backwards.
“The ZIFA president and his deputy were frank on a number of issues and that was refreshing and it also quelled this myth that they are on a campaign to try and take over the PSL because they made it very clear to us that they have too much on their books to even worry about trying to run our league.’’
Jere said they also discussed the proposal that next year’s domestic league championship should start from August and end in May 2020 because the season was changing in the CAF calendar and they had to adapt to those changes.
“The proposal for our season calendar to be changed, starting from next year, was also discussed and ZIFA told us that they were okay with it because everywhere across the continent, including the CAF competitions, things were changing to adopt the season used in Europe,’’ said Jere.
“There was a buy-in from the ZIFA leaders and that’s a plus, but of course, it’s still early stages yet and a lot of other parties have to be brought into the discussion so that we are seen to be doing things according to consensus and not dictating matters.
“The issue of infrastructure was also discussed in detail and, at this stage, it’s too early to talk about it, but what I can only say is that there will be some big changes to the game and we will let our work do most of the talking.’’
Chiyangwa said he was happy that they have held a clear-the-air indaba in which they showed each other a lot of respect and where the focus was on the development of the game and not petty boardroom wars.
“One thing I can tell you is that I told Kenny Ndebele that he is a very influential man in our football and he should be seen to be playing that influential role, and not withdrawing himself into the shadows because he is the man who is administering our main league,’’ said Chiyangwa.
“The meeting helped me to make it very clear to Kenny that all those who have been saying that I want to get him out of football, those who specialise in spreading false rumours and feast on such negative stories are dreaming.
“He shouldn’t lose sleep over that, but he should instead be empowered to ensure that he administers our main league in a way that makes all of us proud because the winners of the PSL become the face of our football too when they play in the CAF Champions League and when they succeed, it gives our game a good profile.
“I am encouraged by the new thrust in terms of developing football which I can see from this PSL leadership, and I believe that they will be some major changes to our game as we go forward because we can empower the PSL, we have the connections all over the world and we should be seen to be helping them.
“We have no interest whatsoever in running their league. We have the Warriors, we have the Mighty Warriors, we have the Young Warriors and we have the whole football in this country to regulate, we don’t have time to take over the PSL.
“What we should be doing, and what we will be doing now going forward will be to ensure that some of the leaders of the PSL also get posts on influential committees at CAF or, better still, even at FIFA because that is the best way we can develop their capacities and also empower them.’’