Warriors great and Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) secretary general Paul Gundani has lauded his union’s candidate membership to the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) as a positive development that will give them an edge in fighting for local footballers’ rights.
FUZ which is led by Dynamos midfielder Desmond Maringwa attained FIFPro candidate membership at a congress in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last month, to be left with only one tier behind obtaining full membership status.
Obtaining the candidate membership rank elevated FUZ from being just an observer member and the local union can now stamp its influence in the worldwide players’ union after gaining voting rights and participation in the general assembly.
Zimbabwe joined Ivory Coast, Morocco and Botswana as African countries with candidate membership status while Egypt, South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon are among the 43 full worldwide member states.
Speaking in Gweru on Thursday, Gundani said their affiliation to FIFPro which is based in Hoofddorp, Netherlands, will make them a more respectable organisation and would also make it easier for them to resolutely stand up for players’ liberties.
He said they were already registered with the Ministry of Labour as the “football industry” and will fight for soccer players to have minimum wages. Gundani, who sits in the Zifa Player Status Committee, said most players are exploited by their clubs by being offered contracts which spell for meagre earnings and as a result, prejudicing their private lives. He attributed players’ proneness to match fixing syndicates to the clubs’ inability to offer lucrative contracts.
The former Ziscosteel midfielder said they would fight for local footballers’ rights so that they are viewed as professionals and not taken for granted as has always been the norm in the local game.
“I can assure you that in about three years to come the football industry will be one of the highly paying and respected professions in the country. We would like to afford our local soccer players professional status so that they live decent lives and make football a good paying job like any other profession.
“Our footballers are usually viewed as uneducated people who scramble to earn a decent living so we would want wipe away this mentality and make them true professionals. Sometimes when players are involved in match fixing scandals, clubs have to take the blame because they are not offering players good contracts,” said Gundani.
Unlike in the North African leagues or the South African Premiership, most local Premier League clubs are not usually at liberty to disclose their players’ salaries because of their paltry offerings. Even the players themselves are shy to let their remuneration known to the public.
This has seen some of them join clubs in lowly ranked football leagues in Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique where they are more concerned about bettering their lives rather than career development.