Season of madness!

The Sunday Mail

Langton Nyakwenda

Zifa councillors have urged their leadership to concentrate more on football development instead of expending energy on the endless boardroom wars.

This follows last week’s bloodbath at the football mother body, where the Zifa board, led by Felton Kamambo, handed life bans on former boss Phillip Chiyangwa and former vice president Omega Sibanda. Board member Chamu Chiwanza was expelled from the Association.

As the messy aftermath of the failed Africa Cup of Nations campaign degenerated to new lows, Zifa also disbanded the national team and dissolved the Warriors technical set-up.

This comes as the unresolved suspension of vice-president Gift Banda stretched into its seventh month. The suspended vice-president remains frozen out as his case has not been dealt with since January. Zifa has virtually been on witch-hunts since the Warriors’ futile Nations Cup campaign, which saw the senior team return home with a single point and a goal – their worst ever performance at the biennial continental football showpiece.

Chiyangwa, whom Zifa have also been frantically trying to recall from the Cosafa presidency, is being charged by the Association with “bringing Zimbabwean football into disrepute through the 2019 Cosafa Cup bid debacle”. .

On the other hand, Sibanda is blamed for “interfering with Zifa judicial bodies during which he sought to influence a Zifa lawyer to throw away a Zifa electoral case, in a bid to foment turmoil.”

In a hectic week for domestic football,  it’s “season of the season of madness, which culminated in Thursday’s intervention by  the Sport and Recreation Commission wrote to Fifa, asking the world governing body to use its powers to remove the entire Zifa leadership from office and replace it with a normalisation committee.But despite the pressure mounting on him, Kamambo said his board had resolved to meet the SRC over the issue.

“The board made a resolution to end this impasse. We decided to go for a round table.

“We wrote a letter to the Sports Minister, asking her to organise the meeting. She (Minister Kirsty Coventry) is outside the country, the meeting can probably be done when the minister comes back.

“As for the football stakeholders, there’s no need to get worried, this is all part of the engagement that the SRC wants. I can assure them that football is in safe hands for now, it’s just unfortunate we were not copied on the letter that they (SRC) sent to Fifa,” Kamambo recently told Star FM.Ironically, the explosion at Zifa is happening at a time when Zimbabwe should be celebrating the Warriors’ return to the World Cup fold.

Zimbabwe missed out on the 2018 qualifiers after being expelled by Fifa following Zifa’s failure to pay former Warriors coach Valinhos.

It is exactly two weeks before Zimbabwe play Somalia in a 2022 World Cup preliminary round qualifier and there is no Warriors squad to talk about following the national team’s disbandment.

Without a substantive coach in place yet, this means the incoming gaffer will have less than 14 days to identify and request for the release of his players ahead of the September 2 clash with Somalia.Nonetheless, as the elephants fight in the Zifa boardroom, it is the grass’ — football development — that is being battered.

The councillors are concerned.

Various councillors, drawn from across the country, expressed concern over the boardroom battles and argued that this amounts to the board’s misdirected energy.

“We should concentrate more on building our game. Things are not moving well in the regions and provinces.

“Football is dying there and yet we see those in charge channelling their energy elsewhere,” bemoaned a councillor, who just like many others who spoke to The Sunday Mail Sport, refused to be named for fear of reprisals.

“We are supposed to come together for the betterment of the game, not to dwell on personal wars.“The national team is the face of Zimbabwean football, we are supposed to concentrate on that area, take stock of what happened at the Afcon finals, rectify the issues and start afresh,” added the councillor. A Bulawayo-based councillor said the Zifa board needs to consult the Congress before making some drastic decisions that have the potential of destabilising the game.

“We haven’t been told why the leadership is on this banning and expelling spree.

“We don’t know what’s going on. We are not even consulted, but I am afraid this could damage the game. Please do not quote me, I might also be banned,” pleaded the councillor.

A provincial chairman, who also requested anonymity, said the board needs to reassure members that the ship has not lost direction.

“At provincial level, the councillors are asking us where football is heading.

“Division 2 clubs are languishing in poverty, expenses have gone high and some clubs are on the verge of folding. These are issues the issues that should be concerning Kamambo and his board, not these useless boardroom wars,” he said.A Premier Soccer League governor is also worried about the goings-on in football.

“I think there’s too much unilateralism on key and critical soccer issues. The decision to disband the Warriors team was done in Zifa’s name but without consulting the football constituency,” said the governor. At the annual meeting in April, Kamambo got many plaudits after his board had pledged to inject finances into Zifa’s affiliates, including the PSL.Zifa’s four regions were set to get $40 000 each while provinces and women’s regions were promised $30 000 and $20 000 respectively. “Nothing has materialised yet with regards to those funds and equipment. They keep promising but there is nothing on the ground,” said another provincial chairman.

“As for the youth league, not even a structure has been put in place. We are praying for that to happen because this is the basis of junior football development,” said one councillor.

Also irked by Zifa’s lethargy is the Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association, whose constituency has been hard done by the absence of Caf A courses in the country.

Club licensing regulations demand that a coach should possess such a qualification for him or her to head a Premier Soccer League technical bench.

“The last time a Caf A course was held was early 2017. We are told Caf courses were suspended, up to now.

“Caf B and C courses were done mid 2017 but the results are yet to be released. A proactive Association would have tried to have a plan B,” said Bheki Nyoni of ZSCA.