WITH the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) dithering on their promise to bail out local teams during this coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, their counterparts in the region are leading by example in this crisis.
Despite receiving a substantial stimulus package worth around US$700 000 from Fifa and the Confederation of African Football(Caf) to cope with the financial effects caused by the lockdowns imposed by most governments across the world, Zifa is yet to make any payments to teams and their various affiliates.
Most local teams rely on gate takings to fund their operations and the delay to the start of the season has created an unprecedented financial turmoil.
Zifa president Felton Kamambo had set June 20 as the deadline to release the bailout package to clubs, women football, referees and various other affiliates.
However, Zifa’s counterparts the Football Association of Malawi (Fam) has already started paying out Covid-19 disbursements to players, coaches and referees earlier this month.
These payments will continue for the next three months. Fam recently published pictures of the recipients withdrawing the cash which amounts to around US$55 per individual.
“We made a commitment to help our players and officials who are struggling financially and we are happy that we have fulfilled our promise. It was so pleasing to see the smiles on the faces of the players as they accessed the money,” Fam spokesperson Gomezgani Zakazaka told Malawi media.
“We pledged to pay K40 000 each to 35 individuals per team meaning for the 15 teams, minus Nyasa Big Bullets who are yet to submit their list of beneficiaries, we were supposed to pay 525 beneficiaries. We have paid 431 because the other 94 are not registered on our online stakeholders registration platform, Mpira Connect.
“We set conditions for the teams to fulfil for their players and official to access the fund like registering them with Super League of Malawi and on Mpira Connect.
“The teams have been notified to do the needful on their remaining players while Nyasa Big Bullets are also finalising their submission.”
Mighty Tigers captain Christopher Mikuwa was pleased after he made his withdrawal.
“We are grateful to Fam for what they have done, this is not a small gesture. We are thankful to the Fam president Walter Nyamilandu for making this special consideration for us; the players are happy; our families are happy because of this gesture. We will pay our rent on time and even at home, everyone will be happy,” Mikuwa said.
“The suspension of the league really hit us players badly because our survival depends on the game being played. And although we had been practicing regularly, we did not give it all our best because you cannot play football on a hungry stomach.”
Here in Zimbabwe, teams are struggling to pay their players with the Manica Diamonds squad yet to receive their salaries for the past three months.
Earlier this month, CAPS United players staged a protest over outstanding salaries at the business premises of club co-director Nhamo Tutisani before they were dispersed by police.