Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIFA have outlawed the free live broadcast — either on radio or television — of all international football matches in this country as the association moves in to reap financial dividends from their rights from such games.
Even the national television and radio stations, which intend to capture sights and sounds from such matches to be broadcast as delayed packages — will have to negotiate and pay a certain fee to the association.
ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa told The Herald from Johannesburg, South Africa, where he met agents who specialise in negotiating broadcasting rights for leagues and associations, that images and sounds from all future international matches in Zimbabwe will have to be paid for.
“The days of free transmission, either for live or delayed purposes, for our football matches are over and that message has to be heard loud and clear,” Chiyangwa said.
“We have a product and it comes with a certain fee and those who want to broadcast our product, either on radio or television — be it for live or delayed purposes — will have to negotiate with us for a fee that we feel is the right one for our product.
“The rights are ours and they can’t be given away for free and from now onwards we will ensure that only those broadcasters that have paid a fee to us are allowed to bring their cameras or microphones into the stadium.
“These rights have now become the lifeblood of football all over the world and there is no way that, if we want to change the face of our game and make our football the commercial success story that we promised the electorate that brought us into these leadership positions, the fans who want to see a new chapter and the players and coaches who want to see their lives getting better, we can’t neglect this key area.
“We have to be seen to be moving with the times because Zimbabwe football does not exist as an island, but is part of the international football community and we need to apply those measures that have made others very successful.”
Chiyangwa is currently in the right country where football has reaped huge benefits from selling its television rights.
The South African Premiership landscape has been dramatically transformed by its deal with SuperSport who have been pumping in a fortune into the richest top-flight league on the continent and the seventh richest league in the world.
Boosted by rich pickings they get from SuperSport, South African clubs can now afford to pay their best players like Teko Modise around R350 000 per month in salaries only.
Last year, SAFA announced a six-year ground-breaking broadcast rights deal with Siyaya TV for the transmission of all official South African national team games. The deal was said to be worth R1 billion (which was around US$93 million) at the time.
Siyaya TV was given exclusive rights for the live broadcast of all Bafana Bafana and Banyana Banyana matches, including friendly matches, the junior national teams, the ABC Motsepe League, Sasol Women League, SAFA TV and the annual SAFA awards.
SAFA also committed themselves to helping Siyaya TV, owned 100 percent by a black consortium, also acquire FIFA, UEFA and CAF rights.
The SAFA broadcast rights had, until this deal, been held by the South African Broadcasting Corporation which paid R45 million a year to the association.
Chiyangwa said it was imperative that ZIFA also think in a big way and cashing in from their broadcasting rights was one way of doing that.
“We have to think outside the box as we move forward and tell each other that it’s not going to be business as usual,” Chiyangwa said.
“There is need for us to embrace a future that tells us we might make decisions that might appear punitive to some of our football families in the short-term but which, in the long-term, will be beneficial to everyone in the game. “The game had to be seen to be changing and we are going to make sure that will be the case by bringing in our international partners and working with our domestic partners and our deal with Wicknell Chivayo was the start of a journey and we hope to reap dividends for the game.” Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation have already lost the battle to beam local Premiership matches after the top-flight body entered into an agreement with SuperSport.
In the past, ZBC have actually demanded to be paid for live coverage of matches from ZIFA but with new players coming on board in a digital world and with ZIFA joining the global trends, the national broadcaster could lose out on the rights to beam next month’s African Nations Cup clash between the Warriors and Swaziland and the Mighty Warriors’ African Nations Cup tie against Tanzania among other games.