DOMESTIC football — reeling from the devastating effects of COVID-19 which have permeated all sectors of the economy across the world — has received a major boost after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) fast-tracked the disbursement of financial aid totalling US$10,8 million to all its 54 member associations this week.
BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
The continental soccer-controlling body’s emergency committee resolved at its virtual meeting on Thursday to bail out member associations as part of measures to ease the financial burden caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“At its meeting on Thursday (May 28, 2020) via video-conference, the Caf Emergency Committee has approved the immediate distribution of financial grants to member associations to support the management of football at the domestic levels hugely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A total of US$10,8 million will be transferred to the 54 member associations on the continent as part of a relief plan to ease the financial burden on the African football community during these unprecedented times,” the soccer-controlling body said on its website.
“Due to the fast-spread of COVID-19, African member associations have suspended all domestic competitions, which has brought about huge financial burdens on their shoulders. Caf has, thus, decided to wave the eligibility requirements to access the annual grants, so all member associations can benefit during this difficult period,” said Caf president Ahmad Ahmad.
The continental soccer-controlling body also said it was assessing the situation with a view to providing additional funding to member associations for the resumption and organisation of their domestic competitions.
Each member association would receive at least US$200 000, which is a huge relief, particularly to the Zimbabwean football community, whose economy has been dislocated by general mismanagement, corruption and poor policies by the government.
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Already, some Premiership clubs, including giants Highlanders and Caps United, among others, have faced challenges in paying playing staff after they channelled a huge chunk towards the pre-season preparations before a national lockdown was imposed in March.
Zifa has indicated it would, in turn, disburse the funds to affiliates to cushion them from the impact of the COVID-19.
The association has since received US$500 000 — half of its annual grant from world soccer-governing body, Fifa, but while other countries including Malawi have used that money to pay players and coaches through their clubs, Zifa has neglected to pay its affiliates from that fund. It inevitably raises questions whether the association has abrogated its responsibilities.
Zifa has reportedly paid referees a paltry $2 000 in local currency each.
The soccer-controlling body has since applied for additional funding from Fifa, to be channelled towards cushioning its affiliates from the devastating effects of the pandemic.
Fifa is yet to respond to Zifa’s request.
Football activities have been halted throughout the world because of the coronavirus pandemic and while other leagues have started in Germany, where the games are being played behind closed doors, the majority of countries are yet to resume.
Teams that participated in the inter-club competitions for the 2019/20 season, including Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum, are set to benefit from the US$3,5 million which Caf announced two weeks back would be disbursed to ease the financial burden of the clubs.
The inter-club competitions were suspended after the quarter-final matches due to COVID-19. FC Platinum were eliminated in the group stages of the Total Caf Champions League.