Football’s return set for next year . . . as Zifa insists on opaque payment schedule


Nigel Matongorere

LOCAL football is now set to return next year after the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board meeting failed to come up with a resumption date during their meeting held in the capital on Monday.

This comes as Zifa has also insisted on a muddy and unclear payment schedule for affiliates and clubs as part of the coronavirus (Covid-19) relief aid.

Zifa recently received the first payment of the US$1,8 million stimulus package from both Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

These funds are meant to help the association ensure football’s safe return by providing grants and all the necessary medical equipment.

According to the Caf Medical Committee, players, coaches, officials and all the support staff, who will be involved in the matches, have to be tested before and after the games.

Locally, coronavirus test kits are going for US$65 each and this means teams will have to spend a considerable amount weekly.

Travelling teams are now required to also book their squad and officials in separate rooms with no sharing allowed.

In total, clubs will have to fork out more than US$10 000 a week just in order to meet the Caf Medical Committee recommendations.

However, Zifa and clubs have been locked in a deadlock over the disbursements the Covid-19 relief aid after the association indicated they will convert the funds into the volatile local currency.

When Zifa announced the stimulus package, the local currency was trading at 1:63 but that ratio has now jumped to 1:83 on the official interbank rate.

Latest figures from ZimStat show that the year-on-year inflation between May 2020 and May 2019 now stands at 785 percent.

In a bid to try and appease the clubs, the Zifa board also revised their disbursements which remain in local currency.

The 18 top flight clubs have been allocated $8 256 080 which means each team will get $458 671 (US$5 526).
However, Zifa insists it will not disclose which affiliate received the relief aid in foreign currency and those that got paid in local currency.

“We have made agreements with our affiliates, some will get the money in the form it came in and others will be paid in local currency at the prevailing official government rate,” Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela told the Daily News last night.

“We cannot divulge that information since it is purely an administrative matter between the association and our affiliates.”

Meanwhile, there is no date yet set for football to resume after the association’s board failed to come up with a proposed date.

Since March, all sporting activities were suspended which meant the 2020 local football season which should have commenced that same period could not kick off.

There has been a spike in positive cases in recent weeks with 135 people losing their lives from the confirmed 5 308 cases.

Football has also been classified as a full contact and high risk sport with training and games only going to be allowed by the government to resume once all health protocols can be met.
Initially, Zifa had set a September start date for the new campaign but that looks no longer possible following the board’s deliberations.

“The association will continue to consult stakeholders and affiliates on the safe return to football activities.
“The Association would like to thank fans and members of the football fraternity for their support as we continue to work on a plan for safe return to football,” Zifa said in a statement last night.


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