THE Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (Fuz) has said that the financial struggles at Caps United which culminated in a fracas last week reflect the way individually-owned clubs are struggling due to the effects of the coronavirus-induced delay in the start of the Premier League Soccer (PSL) season.
BY HENRY MHARA
FUZ said the incident that took place on Tuesday at the club vice-president Nhamo Tutisani’s offices in Harare could have been avoided had there been “proper communication” between the two parties.
“The situation at Caps is among the many sad scenarios we are witnessing in Zimbabwe football,” Fuz noted in response to inquiries from NewsDay Sport yesterday.
“Football is a professional industry with employees who need to be paid. It is the mandate of the clubs to honour their financial obligations and pay the employees their salaries on time. Caps had an obligation to pay the salaries of their employees and if they had issues, they had to find a way to reach a mutual understanding with the players. The loss of trust between the players and their employers caused a rise in tempers in the heat of the moment.”
The local league season failed to take off in March due to the pandemic.
There are concerns about the future of some of the local clubs who are teetering on the brink of collapse.
Fuz said the coronavirus crisis had a major impact on clubs’ revenues, most of which rely on gate takings.
And while Fuz appreciates the prevailing financial difficulties, they implored clubs to honour players’ contracts.
“It is clear that the COVID-19 outbreak has led to situations whereby agreements cannot be honoured as both parties would have anticipated. The economic situation in Zimbabwe does not make the situation any better for both the clubs and the players. Most of the salaries for the players, which were agreed on at the beginning of the season, no longer make sense and these are usually cushioned by winning bonuses and gate takings which are not available at the moment.”
New Fifa regulations on COVID-19 stipulate that clubs and players are encouraged to work together to find appropriate collective agreements on a club or league basis regarding employment conditions for the period in which the competition is suspended due to the pandemic.
“This is something the club can make use of and both parties should be honest upfront on how capable they are to pay so that both of them can reach an agreement. The agreement could include a certain percentage that they can pay and agree on how the balance will be paid and by when.
“The future of football the world over has been affected by the pandemic and Zimbabwe football is not spared. The postponement of the game does not just pose as (sic) an inconvenience for the fans but also takes a large toll on football clubs and players.”
The PSL and other Zifa affiliates fear that most of their members will not survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Fuz is also predicting a bleak future for local football.
“While there is no doubt that football will eventually come back, the economic effects of the COVID-19 are undeniable and paint an uncertain picture on the future of football and some clubs.
Some clubs may come out okay but the question is what will happen to the small clubs that rely on gate takings and do not have much sponsorship? This lockdown period has, however, provided an opportunity for football administrators to go back to the drawing board and come up with new strategies which can help them come out strong.”
The union said it had received numerous complaints from local players whose clubs were failing to pay them. However, it warned the players to avoid taking a militant approach when trying to deal with their situations.