ZIMBABWE – Zimbabwe football is in a deep crisis epitomised by the catastrophic disqualification of the senior national team from the 2018 World Cup set for Russia.
The suspension was caused by Zifa’s failure to pay former national team coach Valinhos’ outstanding salary despite repeated warnings by world soccer governing body, Fifa.
Fifa recently warned that football could be completely paralysed in Zimbabwe if the country does not clean up its act fast.
Zifa owes a string of other former Warriors coaches thousands of dollars and there is a real threat the country could be banned from many other future world football tournaments if they choose to take their cases to Fifa.
The association is also saddled with a staggering debt estimated at over $4 million, which has seen Zifa battling in the courts to save its properties from seizure by impatient creditors.
Zifa’s long list of creditors includes its former president Cuthbert Dube who was ousted last month for alleged incompetence.
Dube’s ouster was universally celebrated as an opportunity to cleanse local football of the rot through the election of a credible administrator in elections set for December 5.
That optimism is now waning because of the calibre of some candidates that have come forward to seek nomination for the hot seat.
As of last week, Harare businessman Phillip Chiyangwa and former Warriors player James Takavada were the only ones who had picked up nomination papers.
Takavada’s track record in football speaks for itself, but he is yet to roll out his campaign and it is difficult to assess his candidacy at this stage.
On the other hand, Chiyangwa has already hit the ground running.
According to reports, last week he convinced Dube’s former deputy Omega Sibanda to back his candidacy.
He also reportedly struck a deal with CAPS United majority owner Farai Jere who was also interested in the post, but will now campaign for Chiyangwa.
The property mogul has been donating money to the senior national team and is promising to bring back sponsors to support local football.
However, as we report elsewhere, it has become clear that Chiyangwa’s experience as a football administrator is very limited.
He claims to have owned teams that were campaigning in lower divisions, but this cannot be enough for a post as big as that of Zifa president.
The game desperately needs an experienced administrator with the capacity to clean up Dube’s mess at the shortest possible time.
Chiyangwa’s only strength at the moment appears to be his ability to mobilise financial resources, but Dube’s disastrous reign clearly demonstrated that Zifa does not need a captain with deep pockets.
The association needs a strategic thinker, not a donor. There is no businessman who is prepared to throw his money into the bottomless pit that is Zifa right now without expecting something in return.
After his unceremonious departure, Dube was clear that he would fight Zifa to recover close to $1 million that he claims to have lent the association.
The way Zifa “borrowed” money from its president smacked of bad corporate governance and this should be the biggest lesson from Dube’s failed leadership.
It would be the height of gross irresponsibility if “another Cuthbert Dube” was elected as Zifa president.
The downward spiral would just continue and by the time the Zifa councillors realise their folly, it would be too late to right the wrongs.
Zifa councillors must exercise their minds before selecting the association’s leader. It is not about the amount of money the candidate claims to have, but it should be about integrity, credibility and ability.
Zimbabwe has many credible administrators and they should step up to the plate before the nominations for the post close on Friday, or Zifa would be stuck in mediocrity forever.