TWO days into June, the $81 000 debt owed to former Warriors coach Jose Valinhos has still not been settled despite a Fifa deadline that it should be paid up by end of May or early June or Zimbabwe risk being excluded from the 2018 World Cup.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
On March 10, Zimbabwe were banned for failing to settle the debt and subsequent engagements with Valinhos’ legal team and the Sport, Arts and Culture ministry to clear the debt seem not to have borne any fruits for Zifa, almost eight weeks before the draw in St Petersburg, Moscow.
Zifa president Cuthbert Dube, chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze and board member Tawengwa Hara have returned from the tumultuous Fifa Congress in Zurich, Switzerland, with no clear answer as to when the debt will be settled.
Zifa has no money, neither does government and Fifa has clearly stated that Valinhos and his legal team hold the aces to Zimbabwe’s inclusion in the 2018 draw.
A three-man Fifa team was in Zimbabwe last month and suggested that the debt be cleared by end of May or early June and Mashingaidze remains confident they will clear the debt ‘“soon”.
“I think the issue of the deadline needs clarification. We were not given a deadline, but Fifa said it would be ideal for us to settle the debt by end of May or early June to avoid pressure on the national association seeing that we have financial problems,” he said.
“The payment will be disposed of this month and Fifa has said Zimbabwe are part of the 209 associations and should take part in the draw.
“We had engagements with Fifa in Zurich in some of our sideline meetings over that and we are working tirelessly to ensure we extinguish the debt. It is an issue between the national association and a former employee that cannot be allowed to hold the nation to ransom.”
Speaking to NewsDay Sport from Zurich on Friday, Hara said: “There was no deadline. It was said end of May or early June. We are finalising it today (last night) after elections I think.”
In March, the Zambian government shelled out a massive $432 000 to former Chipolopolo coach Dario Bonetti to prevent the team facing sanctions like Zimbabwe from Fifa.
Bonetti was in charge of Chipolopolo from July 2010 to October 2011, but was sacked with nine months left on his contract and despite qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
He lodged a complaint against the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) with Fifa and a hearing had been set for August.
But like Zifa, FAZ owes another former coach Patrice Beaumelle, who has been threatening to report the matter to Fifa.
Former Warriors coaches Tom Saintfiet and Ian Gorowa have also threatened to take their matters to Fifa while the likes of Norman Mapeza and Rahman Gumbo are also owed.