Zifa to sell headquarters

Zifa House — dubbed the "House of Horror" by the media — could be sold by an association that believes its headquarters at 53 Livingstone Avenue in Harare is haunted and has no place in their rebranding exercise.

Football association president Cuthbert Dube believes Zifa House has become a cursed place that should soon be vacated and sold.

Dube told his Zifa board members, the Sport and Recrea-tion Commission and Fifa officials Brendan Menton and Ashford Mamelodi that he strongly believes the time has come for the local football controlling body to find a new home.

The business executive said Zifa House had become synonymous with poor leadership and recent reports of suspected corruption have only served to drain stakeholder confidence in the national football leadership.

Dube believes Zifa House is home to demons which has turned into a symbol of corporate decay and as such does not have a place in the vision that the association has for the game.

Zifa, Dube suggested, could buy a new complex and sell the property at 53 Livingstone Avenue, which was purchased by the late Nelson Chirwa’s leadership in the 1980s.

Dube appears to have immediately won the support of Fifa’s Mamelodi, who conceded that "Zifa probably needs to move away and find a new place in line with their vision for a new beginning".

Mamelodi, the Fifa development officer for Southern Africa, has seen other countries in the region use grants they got from the world soccer governing body to build or purchase spacious sports complexes that also house their associations’ head offices.

These include the Seychelles, Botswana and Zambia.

Dube believes Zifa needs to take a business approach to administering Zimbabwe’s biggest sport and notes with concern that the environment at 53 Livingstone Avenue does not fit in with this.

Zifa, Dube said, needed to find a new place to set up their school of excellence, and the Zifa Village in Mt Hampden, which successive boards have failed to complete despite receiving financial aid from Fifa, was not ideal for that.

Although they have resolved to move out of 53 Livingstone Avenue, Zifa are not dumping the property in Mt Hampden and have indicated to Fifa that they will soon engage reputable experts to work on the complex.

Fifa have approved a US$400 000 grant to renovate Zifa Village.

It has also emerged that Zifa intend to apply to Fifa for more financial and material assistance that will enable them to, among other things, secure a new head office.

Zifa has no boardroom and board meetings are held at PSMAS House — Dube’s workplace.

Dube also revealed an ambition to "leave a legacy’’ in his tenure as Zifa president, insisting that despite inheriting a "bankrupt organisation’’ all the board members had indicated to him their commitment to rebrand the association and ensure football becomes functional in all affiliates.

"The majority of the members of this board have built

their names and we do not want that to be destroyed by some wrong decisions in football or some scandals, it can take only five minutes to destroy a reputation," said Dube.

"We want to build a new Zifa headquarters because 53 Livingstone, which is Zifa House, is haunted, it is cursed and we want a new beginning for Zifa even it means us also having a new logo.

"We inherited a bankrupt Zifa…

"I will also be a tougher leader for Zifa and drive it to the expectations of the nation. People are looking for results and for football development.

"If we fail to deliver we must all step down but do we need to step down when it is one or two people who have failed the game . . . ? No, it is those people that would need to step down first."

Dube said his board, which came under criticism for the manner in which it handled the failed recruitment of Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet for the Warriors job, would not "accept mediocrity at Zifa House".

"As Zifa we will remain apolitical and we will not allow party politics to become the agenda of Zifa meetings.

"All we want is football development and we will take the business of football seriously, after all football has become big business the world over," Dube said.

Veteran football administrator Mamelodi, while throwing his weight behind Zifa’s bid to find a new headquarters, acknowledged that when he was here last year he sang praises of a plan unveiled by the Wellington Nyatanga board only to discover that all but two members of that leadership survived the next Zifa election.

Mamelodi said it was imperative that Zifa capitalised on Fifa’s programme to help professionalise all associations within two years.

"Professionalisation is a two-year cycle by Fifa standards and we need to be candid to ourselves and really come up with a roadmap for Zimbabwe which if we feel is not done within two years then it will be time for Fifa to look elsewhere and go to a country that is more serious.

"Football is a business now and we cannot afford to run it any other way . . .

"We must allow the secretariat time and space to implement what the executive would have decided.

"People out there are looking at Zifa to change its image and football has become an important marketing tool.

"So we have to be honest and candid and ensure that there is a well-oiled secretariat at Zifa. Football has now changed and associations now need to have experts everywhere," Mamelodi said.