Zifa mustn’t mess this up. . . as haggling over Covid-19 bailout continues  

Nigel Matongorere

ZIFA had made a commendable move by agreeing to bail out football clubs during this coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic but the association risks squandering all that goodwill due to an opaque payment structure.
The association received a total of US$2,5 million from Fifa and Caf as a stimulus package to help keep the game afloat during the health crisis.
Zifa has already received the first payment of the relief aid, with the remainder set to arrive at the start of next year.
Since the start of March, football across the world had to be suspended due to the alarming spread of Covid-19.
Most football associations, clubs and players began to feel the effects of the virus as revenue streams were also completely blocked.
Initially, Zifa had refused to come to the rescue of clubs and their affiliates but after lobbying and pressure from the media the association had a change of heart.
However, Zifa insists on converting the money and make payments to clubs and the rest of the recipients in local currency.
At the weekend, the association held an emergency meeting with all the 18 Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams to discuss the issue.
Due to the high inflation rate in the Zimbabwe economy, which now stands at 785 percent, clubs refused to receive the relief aid in local currency and demanded to be paid in US dollars in their nostro accounts.
After the heated meeting, Zifa president Felton Kamambo admitted that the association will now convene a board meeting where the issue will be discussed.
The association has shockingly started disbursing funds to the Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League (ZWSL) teams in local currency.
Most of the teams have raised concerns over the disbursements where there is no clear laid down communication to highlight the amounts each team will be receiving.
Zifa should take a leaf from their counterparts at the Ghana Football Association (GFA), who last week announced their relief aid to teams and all football stakeholders.
Instead of converting the money they received from Fifa and Caf into Ghanaian cedis, the GFA is forwarding it to the recipients in US dollars.
“Per the provisions of the Operational Model and Governance Structure  (Oversight,  Audit  &  Control)  of the Fifa  Covid-19  Relief Plan document from Fifa which was emailed to members of the GFA earlier,  the  framework  established  must  have  a  broader reach  and flexibility  to  be  implemented  in  a  way  that  considers  not  only top-level  football  but  also  national  teams,  women’s  football,  lower-tier domestic  leagues, youth and  grassroots football,  as  well  as  other stakeholders,” the GFA wrote last week.
The GFA went on to provide a detailed breakdown of the payments, which will see top flight clubs receive US$10 000 this month and US$5 000 next January.
The 16 women’s football teams in the West African country will also get US$10 000 this month while the 72 lower league teams will each get at least US$1 000.
A further US$190 000 has been set aside for the women’s national teams’ assignments and the administration of their league and cup competitions.
If Zifa had followed a similar approach, the association would have avoided all these confrontations that are now making the headlines.

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