The Sport ministry expressed satisfaction with the progress made by the Phillip Chiyangwa-led Zifa board in stabilising the association as the football mother body announced yesterday that their benefactor Wicknell Chivayo would increase his sponsorship.
BY Kevin Mapasure
Chivayo has since pledged $1 million, but he made promises that his support would go beyond that after meeting Chiyangwa yesterday.
Chiyangwa announced at a luncheon he hosted for the players that was attended by Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane as well as Labour and Social Welfare deputy minister Tapiwa Matangaidze, that Chivayo had pledged to donate a new vehicle specifically for use by Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa.
The car is expected to be delivered during the first week of next month, but before that, Chivayo also promised to settle in full the Zifa debt owed to Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet.
He has since paid $50 000 of the $185 000 required to offset the debt and save Zimbabwe’s 2022 World Cup campaign, which has been under threat.
Zimbabwe was booted out of the 2018 Fifa World Cup campaign after failing to pay what it owed to former Warriors coach Valinhos.
Chiyangwa also told the players and coaches that they would be able to know after tomorrow’s board meeting how much they would be getting for their participation at the African Nations Championship (Chan). He said he would announce details of the agreement they would have reached with the sponsor.
“Our sponsor said that he is going to make available a brand new vehicle for Pasuwa,” Chiyangwa said.
“This is going to happen early February, he is going to pay off Tom Saintfiet before January 31 and the first week of next month he will deliver the vehicle. We are still discussing about money that we want to give the players participating at Chan, so after the board meeting on Friday (tomorrow), I will be able to announce to the coach and his team how much we will pay them for this tournament.”
The flamboyant businessman said Zifa was in a rush to conclude Pasuwa’s contract issue, which was likely to reach finality after tomorrow’s board meeting.
“We want to conclude Pasuwa’s contract and we need to include the vehicle issue in the contract. I am sure we will be successful at Chan.” Hlongwane and Mataingaidze heaped praise on Chiyangwa and his board for the stability they have brought at 53 Livingstone House. “In the past I was commenting a lot, but when I do not comment, it means I am happy with what is going on,” Hlongwane said.
“I can see that the key element of the development of Zifa – which is stability – is now visible. We no longer have that bad publicity at Zifa, this is what we have been looking for all along – somebody who could stabilise the Zifa ship because, for us, football is not just a game, it’s not just a sport, it is an industry that is important to the economy.”
Hlongwane said the government would soon meet Zifa to share ideas on how they could improve and contribute to the economy, particularly through employment.
“We want Zifa to look at how the game contributes to the economy. We do not want unnecessary squabbles, we want things to flow as is happening, we are happy with the work that Chiyangwa and his team are doing.”
He added that he was particularly pleased with the active participation of the board.
“When you have a board that is hands-on, you know that football is in safe hands and this is what we are seeing at Zifa. To the players and the technical team, we wish you well, I can see you want to prove a point, this is a golden opportunity for you to win something, not only for yourself, but for the country. I am happy that Zifa has dealt with issues of the players’ allowances, I am proud to be associated with what you are doing. Let’s continue doing this even after Chan.”
Former Premier Soccer League chairman Matangaidze weighed in saying: “What we have always wanted is stability and I am happy that in one month that this new board has been in office, we are starting to see things moving.”