FORMER Warriors coach Valinhos will be $81 000 richer at the end of this month after Zifa were given until May 29 to clear the outstanding debt which saw Zimbabwe being banned from the 2018 World Cup preliminary round draw set for July in St Petersburg, Russia.
BY WELLINGTON TONI
Zimbabwe was banned on March 10 and if they don’t pay, they will be excluded as Fifa pushes to expedite the matter. A high-powered Fifa delegation was in Zimbabwe at the start of the week where they met with Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa, the Sports and Recreation Commission and the Zifa board.
Fifa development manager for East and Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi, director of member associations and development Thierry Regenass and senior development manager for Africa Zelklifi Ngoufonja were in the capital.
Speaking to NewsDay Sport yesterday, Langa said: “Fifa was very much concerned by the failure of the Zifa board to settle their debts and are of the opinion that they should engage their creditors. On my part, I will talk to the government to assist.
“The debt has to be settled within May and I am certain that we will participate in the 2018 World Cup draw. The Valinhos issue is a disciplinary matter that can be dealt with.”
The minister added: “They are of the feeling that while the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) are important, we should try to limit our participation in other tournaments because this has the effect of adding more to its (Zifa) creditors. It was really a fruitful meeting.
“They (Fifa) also emphasised that Zifa should work as a unit to achieve their set goals.”
The meeting was attended by the Zifa board while Zimbabwe Women’s Football boss Miriam Sibanda took the opportunity to meet the Fifa officials, although she confirmed that she had not been advised of the meetings.
“Yes, I had not been advised. I went there because I wanted to meet the Fifa officials as they had been given the impression that every time they (Fifa) came to Zimbabwe, women’s football leaders were not available.
“So I wanted to disabuse them of that impression,” Sibanda told NewsDay Sport yesterday.
Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze admitted that Fifa was heavily concerned with the debts with CBZ Bank owed $1,5 million.
“They took an appreciation of the creditors’ list, chiefly among them CBZ and ordered us to have a solid payment plan with the bank stretching from three to five years” he said.
”On the Valinhos debt, the message was simple that we pay off or we will not play. The draw is in July and we have to make sure by the time of the congress the debt will have been settled. The Fifa congress, where elections for the presidency will be held, takes place on May 28 and 29, leaving Zifa with just 15 days to raise the money.
“We have another debt with Pandhari Lodge and Fifa is concerned with the litigations that are continuously coming our way.”
Besides the World Cup and Afcon qualifiers, Zifa entered four more teams into All-Africa Games (men and women), the Under- 23 Championships and the Cosafa Cup, which starts in South Africa this weekend.
The Young Warriors have already qualified for the All-Africa Games finals to be staged in Congo-Brazzaville in September while the women’s team failed to make the grade after falling out to Ghana in the final qualifying round.
The Under-23 side will face Swaziland next week and if they progress in South Africa, for a slot in the finals set for Senegal.
The other side, made of Under-23 and senior players leave today for the Cosafa Cup in South Africa — all these being issues that Fifa feels Zifa, saddled with a $5 million debt, can do without as they have no source of funding.