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Image, economy, harm sponsorship drive

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The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa)’s drive to raise financial resources from the corporate world is yet to yield results with most companies seemingly in no hurry to loosen their purse strings.

Zifa board member (marketing) Nigel Munyati told SuperSport.com that the association’s failure to attract sponsorship was as much due to the prevailing economic hardships as it was to Zifa’s tainted image.

Zifa requires around $5m to cover expenses for all national teams as well as the operations of its secretariat.

The Warriors are currently involved in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers while the Under-20s and Under-23s have upcoming international commitments.

Without sponsorship, the new Zifa administration will likely struggle, more so since the government is traditionally reluctant to fund sport.

Said Munyati: “Most companies are currently battling to make ends meet and under such circumstances spending money on football is considered a luxury.

“But we have engaged a number of potential sponsors and we got sympathetic responses. Some are promising to give us support once the economic environment improves.

“We remain hopeful because companies are aware that it makes business sense to support football. It is an effective marketing vehicle they can utilise.”

He however also acknowledge that the traditional image of Zifa as an “organisation riddled with corruption and incompetent management” has also been “the biggest handicap, even in the best of business times”.

But Munyati brushed aside suggestions that the new board has apparently strengthened such perceptions through its own mishandling of the appointment of a national team coach.

Nearly seven months after then Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa tendered his resignation, the Cuthbert Dube-led board is yet to come up with a substantive replacement.

The proposed appointment of Tom Saintfiet has remained mired in controversy, with the Belgian having his work permit application turned down last week, in a move some attributed to the divisions within Zifa over his suitability.

Dube has fiercely opposed Sainfiet’s appointment, preferring instead local boy Norman Mapeza who however has no coaching qualifications.

One board member with political connections and aligned to Dube is said to have declared during a board meeting that “Saintfiet will never get a work permit.”

But Munyati insists the board remains united on Saintfiet, blaming any perceived divisions on a “media that has battles to fight and special interest groups to support”.

He maintains the eight-month-old board has made a good start despite having found themselves in a “unique and unusual challenge”.

No sooner had the new board come into office than it plunged straight into cumbersome investigations involving the match-fixing scandal, corruption and what Munyati called the “unprofessional behaviour of the chief executive and other members of the secretariat.”
— Supersport

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