A HIGH-powered Fifa delegation is in Zimbabwe to look at the state of football in the country as the national
game continues to deteriorate at alarming speed, which has also left the Warriors’ participation in the 2018 World Cup preliminary round hanging by a thread.
BY WELLINGTON TONI
Fifa development manager for East and Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi, who is based in Botswana, arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday.
Thierry Regenass, the Fifa director of member associations and development, and Zelklifi Ngoufonja, the Fifa senior development manager for Africa, arrived in the capital yesterday and immediately met with the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC).
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said: “Their main agenda is to look at the state of football in Zimbabwe. They will meet the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Andrew Langa, the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and the Zifa Board.”
Later yesterday, the trio was due to meet Langa and his deputy Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga before rounding off their two-day stay with a meeting of the Zifa board today.
Zifa vice-president Omega Sibanda, who recently attended a Soccerex event in Asia is already in Harare for the meetings with Fifa which all board members are expected to attend.
Zifa president Cuthbert Dube, Fungai Chihuri, John Phiri, Twine Phiri, Tawengwa Hara and representative from women football will attend the meeting with ex-officio member and the association’s chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze. Women football is in a mess after an attempted coup on Mirriam Sibanda three weeks ago.
The visit by the Fifa delegation comes after a promise by Langa after Zimbabwe was barred on March 10 from taking part in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers for failing to settle a debt owed to former coach Jose Valinhos.
And 62 days after that, the $81 000 debt has still not been settled.
While Zifa says its work in progress as they engaged Valinhos’ lawyers and the Ministry of Sport, Arts and Culture has re-assured the nation that Zimbabwe will be reinstated, the reality is that the debt has not been paid and there are now serious fears the Warriors will not be part of the draw.
The draw will take place on July 25 in St Petersburg, Russia.
Zimbabwe was officially banned on March 10 after the Brazilian coach successfully sought recourse with the world governing body over a $60 000 debt, which spiralled to $81 000 due to legal costs and interests.
Valinhos was fired by Zifa after he failed to guide the Warriors to the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations which took place in Angola and the first World Cup which took place on the continent in South Africa.
He managed just a 2-0 home win over Namibia in that dreadful campaign, probably one of the worst by any Warriors coach-local or foreign since Independence.
Zifa had acknowledged the debt on November 28, 2008 to the coach, but it is believed half of it was paid using funds from the Financial Assistance Programme (FAP) funds, leaving the remainder of $60 000, which has caused Zifa all sorts of headaches.
The Brazilian was entitled to a $15 000 monthly salary after being given the same amount as signing on fees at a ceremony also witnessed by the late Vice President and then Zifa patron Joseph Msika and Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi.