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Blatter’s pledge

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Fifa president Sepp Blatter on Monday morning pledged to support the development of Zimbabwean football following a closed door meeting with Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and his officials at a local hotel on Monday.

The meeting, held between 9:44am and 11:10am, was closed to the media, but officials who attended confirmed the world football governing body’s assistance to the national association, which is also hosting the Cosafa Women’s Championships.

The breakfast meeting was attended by Blatter, Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke and Fifa officials, Fifa Southern Region Development officer Ashford Mamelodi, Cosafa coordinator Sue Destombes, Dube, his two vice-presidents, Ndumiso Gumede and Kenny Marange, and Premier Soccer League chairman Twine Phiri.

Zifa board members Benedict Moyo, Mavis Gumbo, Patrick Hokonya, Fungai Chihuri, Solomon Mugavazi, Nigel Munyati and Warriors manager Sharif Mussa were also in attendance.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi and Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Karikoga Kaseke were also part of the proceedings.

Also in attendance was Sports and Recreation Commission director-general Charles Nhemachena; Education, Sport, Arts and Culture secretary Stephen Mahere and principal director in the same office Paul Damasane.

Dube made his presentation to Blatter where he pointed out they had inherited a bankrupt organisation and were saddled with debts amounting to almost $500 000 in addition to various lawsuits from former coaches.

One such litigation was coming from Belgian Tom Saintfiet, who is demanding $450 000 for breach of contract after the national association failed to secure a work permit for him to start work in October last year, mainly because he had breached the country’s immigration laws.

“Dube stated that Zifa was broke and needed all the support from Fifa to start on a clean slate. He said they will stick to three issues in their quest to clean the game, accountability, transparency and cleaning its public image.

“He also applauded Mamelodi on the role he has played in ensuring Zifa received support from Fifa, financial assistance in hosting the Cosafa championships and making sure that the Goal Project remained on course.

“On his part, Blatter pledged his full support, without mentioning any figures, at all levels. He said it was good that Zifa communicated everything that was happening in terms of football and other issues,” sources who attended the meeting said.

From the hotel, Blatter was whisked into his awaiting car, and following up a convoy of vehicles, headed to Mount Hampden for a tour of the training centre and immediately on arrival, the top man was not impressed by the dusty road leaving to the site.

“You have a beautiful place here, but it’s no use when you don’t have access.

“I am going to talk to the President about that. We are happy though with progress you have made. I am sure you need to work on the road, resurfacing it and making sure the environment here remains good.

“You have a good place, 1 600ha and am sure you can do a lot,” Blatter said before the photo shoot with Kuwadzana kids.

Fifa has put up $400 000 for the second phase of the project and an additional $150 000 is expected from the 2012 and 2013 financial assistance programme funds.

In addition to the $250 000 annual grant, the world football governing body will add $50 000.

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