Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
THE long-running dispute between ZIFA and international match agency Kentaro AG continues to stalk the association with the Deputy Sheriff late yesterday swooping on the country’s governing football body’s headquarters in Harare to attach property in the latest tale related to the row.
ZIFA and Kentaro have been haggling for the last six years in a matter related to the proceeds of the high-profile international friendly match between the Warriors and Brazil at the National Sports Stadium in 2010.
The Swiss match agents have over the years been demanding $650 000 from ZIFA and the matter spilled into the court in Switzerland.
But, in the latest twist, the Deputy Sheriff yesterday afternoon descended on the ZIFA headquarters at 53 Livingstone Avenue and removed property as part of a bid to recover 19 000 Swiss Francs which the Association owe to the law firm which represented them in their case against Kentaro in Switzerland.
ZIFA lawyer Ralph Maganga said the nature of the agreement which Kentaro had entered into with the association was such that any dispute between the parties would be resolved in a Swiss court and when a row erupted, they had no choice, but to defend themselves in the European country.
It is against this background, Maganga said, ZIFA engaged Swiss law firm Horst Weber to represent them with the soccer mother body steadfastly denying they owe Kentaro $650 000 and arguing they were not directly involved in arranging the clash between the Warriors and the Samba Boys.
In yesterday’s case, in which the Deputy Sheriff attached and removed property which included desks and chairs from some of the offices, it is Weber and Partners who, through their Zimbabwean lawyers Sawyer and Mkushi Legal Practitioners, are seeking to recover 19 000 Swiss francs which is payment for their services in defending ZIFA in a Swiss court.
“In terms of the agreement that was there between ZIFA and Kentaro it’s that in the event of any dispute between the parties, the matter would have to be taken to a Swiss law firm and to a Swiss court.
“So when a dispute arose, it meant that we needed lawyers from Switzerland to represent us and we engaged Horst Weber,’’ Maganga said.
ZIFA, Maganga said, had, however, failed to pay for the services provided by Weber Law Partners with the association’s lawyer conceding that they reneged on a payment plan they had made to service the debt.
“When a payment plan that was entered into between Horst Weber and ZIFA was not fulfilled, they then engaged Sawyer and Mkushi to represent them here so they first came last year and attached property and today they have removed what they identified and attached.
“That property does not include the property that is being leased by ZIFA, including the one at the front office.
“It must also be recalled that Kentaro had tried to garnishee FAP funds (FIFA Financial Assistance programme funds) but FIFA declined so the problems of the Kentaro debt are not yet over for us,’’ Maganga said.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa, whose leadership inherited the Kentaro issue, has since instituted a forensic audit of ZIFA and has been pleading with the creditors to be patient with them while the audit is being carried out.
The Kentaro row even sucked in the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
The Brazil/Zimbabwe match attracted about 55 000 fans drawn from all races at the giant stadium while a number of big corporate companies, also chipped in with sponsorship for the successful staging of the match which was also used as part of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority’s programmes to spruce up the country’s image.
Six years on ZIFA are still haunted by the saga that followed that big game, which gave local fans a chance to watch live, such superstars like Kaka, Dani Alves, Julio Cesar, Bastos and Robinho.
Two years ago, former ZIFA vice-president Ndumiso Gumede warned that the Kentaro matter would continue to cause problems for successive boards if the matter was not brought to finality.
“ZIFA was never involved in the organisation of the match between the Warriors and Brazil yet we find ourselves with this lawsuit from Kentaro that is still unfinished and which the new board is certain to inherit and which could continue to stalk them and disturb them the way it did with us.
“What is even more painful is that the ZTA exonerated us, the Government through the Ministry of Tourism exonerated us from the events surrounding the deal that brought Brazil to the country, but somehow from the time of the inclusive government, there hasn’t been that commitment from the authorities to end this case and the other problems that are halting progress in football.
“We also find it strange that even the Sports Commission, who were actually demanding their share of the gate revenue from the Brazil match, have not helped us,” Gumede said.
In exonerating ZIFA from the allegations by Kentaro in October 2010 that the association pocketed $650 000 from the gate revenue of the Warriors against Brazil match, ZTA chief executive Karikoga Kaseke branded the Swiss match agents a bunch of criminals who tried to rip Zimbabwe off when the Samba Boys played here.
Kaseke said then that he was irked by claims from both Kentaro and ZIFA that they did not know where the gate revenue collected from the big match went.
The ZTA boss revealed that the money realised from the sale of tickets for the match had been paid to CBZ Bank to service to an advance payment, which the financial institution had given to the tourism body to pay the Brazilians.
Brazil, Kaseke, also said, had initially demanded two million pounds in order to play the Warriors before agreeing to settle for $750 000, part of which was to be paid before the match.
“Brazil agreed to come here at a fee and initially they wanted two million pounds.
“They could not play before they got their money so because we did not get any from Government, we had to go to CBZ who agreed to give us $650 000 which we topped up to give the Brazilians the appearance fee they had demanded,’’ Kaseke said.