And, just like that, they started a party

04 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
And, just like that, they started a party END OF AN ERA . . . Exactly 10 years ago, the News of The World, the best selling British newspaper, came up with this iconic front page, as it closed shop, and waved goodbye to their readers. This week, some ZIFA leaders, had a party hoping to see a similar farewell message, on this blog

The Herald

Sharuko on Saturday

THERE hasn’t been much to celebrate for my good colleagues at ZIFA House this year, because it’s hard to find a rainbow of comic relief when the national game is on its deathbed.

It’s difficult to find an island of refuge when you are surrounded by a raging ocean whose stormy currents keep inflicting damage on your sinking ship.

It’s tough to find an oasis to quench your thirst when you find yourselves trapped in the unforgiving heat of the belly of the beast, in the heart of the Sahara Desert, with life being gradually sucked out of your system.

So, in such desperation, human nature dictates that one clings to straws, including listening to the sound of a stone, and dancing to the beat of a rock.

No rock music, as such, that would be a luxury but, during such trying times, even a rock can produce a sound to rival Steve Makoni’s timeless classic tune, “Handiende.’’

The problem is no one else hears that sound, except the one whose mind would have been crippled by circumstances whose power of reason would have been diluted by the sheer force of the challenges.

They call it madness, the state that comes with serious mental illness, where insanity becomes a big part of who you are, where irrationality becomes a part of your shadow.

Derangement, dementedness, lunacy and even just plain foolishness, drives you to believe that, indeed, there is sweet music being churned out by the rock.

And, you dance to your imaginary tune, in your imaginary world, you even ask for the song to be replayed, so that you can continue dancing.

After all, it provides you with an escape from reality, a drift into the chambers of fantasy, where even Coca-Cola gets to taste like Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky.

And, where even Chibuku starts to taste like the Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck, considered to be the most expensive champagne the world has ever seen.

The price of each bottle of this vintage champagne was a staggering US$275 000.

For decades, 200 of these bottles found themselves preserved in the belly of the ocean, after a vessel, which was transporting them, was sunk by a German U-boat, during World War II.

The conditions, in the very depths of the ocean, created a vintage champagne stored in each of these bottles.

And, when the wreckage was eventually found, in 1997, those who specialise in searching the ocean for priceless treasure, struck gold, in a very big way.

The only record of sales, so far, in the world, of this vintage champagne, was to some elite guests at the exclusive Ritz-Carlton hotel, in Moscow.

How appropriate this drink would have been to serve during the cyberspace celebrations which erupted this week on the interactive forums of the suspended ZIFA board members.

Surely, given the tsunami they have been battling, since the Sports Commission wielded the axe and suspended them, a bottle of Shipwrecked 1907 Heidsieck, would have provided the ultimate drink for the Mother of All Feasts.

After all, it costs about half of what these guys are looking at getting into the association’s coffers, just for the Warriors’ appearance at the AFCON finals, next month.

There could be more, in terms of projected earnings, from this Nations Cup adventure, should the Warriors do better than on the previous four occasions, when they were part of this football festival.

So, what was the occasion, which led to this midweek cyberspace party, you might ask?

Well, it’s not a letter from FIFA, which the suspended ZIFA board members have been pleading, and praying for, to intimidate the Sports Commission, forcing the regulators to reverse their decision.

For more than two weeks, the beleaguered ZIFA bosses have been praying for FIFA’s intervention to bully the SRC into submission, and force them to set aside the sanctions they imposed on the board members.

If FIFA could intervene in Kenya, just three days after the government in the East African country dissolved the country’s football governing body, why were they not doing the same here?

If the Kenyans were being threatened with being thrown out of international football, for daring to confront their football leadership, why were FIFA not coming up with the same cocktail of threats in this country?

After all, they must have been telling themselves, there is more for FIFA to gain, in terms of reminding the world that no one interferes with domestic football leaders, and gets away with it, by suspending Zimbabwe compared to Kenya.

The accompanying media coverage, in which Marvelous Nakamba, an English Premiership player, would be barred from competing at the next AFCON finals, would suit FIFA’s agenda, in terms of stamping their authority, more than suspending Kenya.

The Harambee Stars will not be at the next AFCON finals.

And, even if they were going, they don’t have the kind of players, with Nakamba’s status, to generate a storm, with its international media coverage.

COMICAL ALI, JOSEPH GOEBBELS AND THE ART OF UGLY SPIN

So, why were the beleaguered ZIFA board members in such a party mood this week?

It’s all about the developments, at this media giant called Zimbabwe Newspapers, this week, which saw me being handed the baton to lead our tabloid, H-Metro, as the newspaper’s Editor.

That announcement was enough for some, not all, members of the suspended ZIFA board to start the cyberspace celebrations on their interactive forums.

To them, this was the best news since Khama Billiat scored, deep into added time, to spare us the humiliation of being the first country, to be knocked out of the World Cup qualifiers by Somalia.

Khama’s golden goal, which gave us a 3-1 win, came in September 2019.

So, it means, in the last two full years, there has been nothing, absolutely nothing, to cheer the spirits of those who have been leading our football, as the game stumbled from one crisis to the other.

Their comical recruitment of the hapless Zdravko Logarusic to take charge of the Warriors, did not provide the comedy, let alone the relief, which they must have been praying for.

Instead, it brought a string of failures, which became even an embarrassment to them, they eventually cut ties with him, as he kept staining their image.

And, when the SRC cracked their whip, and dissolved their board, the script turned into a horror movie, for them, with their hold on domestic football, suffering a knock, from which it will never recover.

As their world collapsed around them, they started seeing shadows, everywhere they went, and blaming just about everyone else, but themselves, for their sorry plight.

The media, as is usually the case in such a scenario, became a frequent target, for those who were battling to hang on, to their posts.

If you didn’t support them then you became an enemy and, in an instant, they transformed themselves into football versions of George W. Bush, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

It’s either you were with them or you were an enemy, it’s as simple as that.

Even if you told them that the “Handiede’’ song, they will be listening to, from their magical rock with the powers to produce a sound, was not a product of reality, but an extension of fantasy.

So, when they heard that I had been assigned to take charge of H-Metro, it was the Christmas gift from heaven, which they said they had been praying for, requiring them to have a party.

A dangerous enemy, they told each other, was no longer on the battlefield.

And now, they could afford to twist things, as and when it suited them, without someone having the courage to tell them, they were not only wrong but trying to mislead the public.

Without someone having the courage to tell them that, in their campaign to deceive the public, they had become football’s version of Comical Ali.

His real name is Mohammed Saeed-al Sahhaf and shot to prominence with his deceptive daily television addresses, during the Allies Invasion of Iraqi, telling the world American troops were committing suicide, in their hundreds, outside Baghdad.

He even denied there were American tanks in Baghdad, even though the sound of the power of their guns could occasionally provide a soundtrack to his daily media briefing.

They wanted us all to be football’s version of Joseph Goebbels.

The fiery Nazi spokesman, whose loyalty to Hitler, meant he was prepared to try and drag the entire German nation, towards its destruction, with his lies meant to give them the false hope they were winning World War II.

It didn’t matter to Goebbels, did it, that the Allies, attacking from the Western Front, were now crossing the Rhine River and the Soviets, attacking from the Eastern Front, were crossing the Oder River.

Berlin, the Nazi fortress, was now vulnerable, and set to be overrun by this massive force, spelling the end of the German resistance.

Somehow, in their wisdom, or lack of it, those ZIFA board members celebrating that I had moved away from these pages, which means there would be less criticism aimed in their direction, forgot the existence of the beast called Convergence, at this company.

This beast which encourages the branches of this huge tree, called Zimpapers, to work in tandem, and cooperate in everything, meant I would be available, as and when I can, to raise the alarm, even on these pages, when football was being dragged into its grave.

This is the same privilege, which ensures that our colleague, Makomborero Mtimukulu, also known as Gold in football circles, can now and again come on board, and give us a good dose of his excellent commentary, on football, in these pages.

It’s irrelevant that Gold primarily works for Zimbabwe Television Network.

The same privilege which gives H-Metro Deputy Editor, Charles Mushinga, the platform to go and provide football analysis, on ZTN, during their live broadcast of the local league matches.

It’s as simple as that, the power of this group is in its pack, and those on the ZIFA board, who decided to celebrate this week, might have done so prematurely.

It’s not that I am on a mission to criticise them or just to try and pick something wrong, in what they do, while turning a blind eye to the good things they do.

That would be very unprofessional.

But, at the same time, the hardest thing is to try and spin the chaos in local football, and pretend that everything is alright because that, also, is being unprofessional.

WHAT A WEEK THIS HAS BEEN

Even if the developments this week meant it was the end of my romance with the Old Lady of Zimbabwean newspapers, this beast called The Herald, and I would never write anything again here, the script would have been perfect.

Just think about it — it had to be the first day of the month and, just like it was in the beginning, it would have been in the ending of the story.

November 1, at the beginning, December 1, at the end.

The Summer of ’92 at the beginning, the Summer of 2021 at the end and, in between, it was the classic definition of a romance, made in heaven.

When it started, the English Premiership had only been running for three months.

Peter Ndlovu had just become the first African footballer to grace its fields, and Manchester United hadn’t won a league championship for a quarter-of-a-century.

There were only three African players in the English Premiership, and two of them — Ndlovu and goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar — were from this country.

The other, forward Efan Ekoku, was from Nigeria.

Back in 1992, Gianlucca Vialli’s £14,9 million transfer from Sampdoria to Juventus was the most expensive transaction, for the transfer of a footballer ever conducted, between two clubs.

Today, the world is waiting for the next footballer to smash the world record transfer fee of £202 million, which Paris Saint-Germain paid Barcelona, to acquire the services of Neymar.

Black Aces had just won the domestic Premiership, under the guidance of the legendary Peter Nyama but, today, both the club, and their coach, have disappeared from geography and slipped into history.

The man, who scored a domestic record 62 goals, in one season in 1970, is now late.

And, his Aces, the iconic football club which used to give the people of Highfield a symbol of both pride, and a genuine sense of ownership, collapsed at the turn of the millennium.

Even Gwanzura, which used to be their Theatre of Dreams, is now an eyesore.

It has since been reduced, by an evil combination of sheer neglect and sickening disrespect to both history and heritage, by the very people who swore to protect such facilities.

It’s the closest thing which one can get to witchcraft, when it comes to the shame of city fathers, who turned their back on the very iconic facilities, which they claimed they would maintain.

But, not even their negligence can erase the memories created by the likes of the Mugeyi twins, Wilfred and William, the Mbidzo brothers — John and Davis — John Mbidzo, Percy Mwase, Stanley Mashezha, Emmanuel Nyahuma and Charles Kaseke in winning Aces’ last league title.

Before them, the likes of Daniel Chikanda, Bernard “Machipisa’’ Dzingayi, Rodrick “Doctor’’ Muganhiri, Byron Manuel, Shadreck Ngwenya, David Muchineripi and Archieford Chimutanda, were some of the immortals, who scripted memories, which can’t be washed away, by man’s frailties.

In the year George Shaya died, the Warriors had their worst World Cup campaign in history, scoring just two goals in nine hours, with just one coming from open play, it would have been the perfect season to say goodbye.

In the year that Khama Billiat announced his retirement from international football, finally losing patience with a game which has the audacity to employ an imposter, and clown, to come and take charge of the Warriors, it would have been the perfect stage to say goodbye.

In the year where Dynamos now struggle to attract even 1000 fans to their matches, and where 1500 fans at a Bosso match make headlines, it would have been the perfect time to say goodbye.

In the year where domestic football is now led by those who believe there are five continents in Africa, where criticism is outlawed and the only way you can go and cover the Warriors is by singing their praises, it would have been the perfect season to say goodbye.

In a game where you now have to repeatedly, if not shamelessly, tell the leaders that they are God’s gift to football administration, because that’s the song everyone else appears to be singing, then it’s probably the perfect time to say goodbye.

In a game where you have to repeatedly, and shamelessly tell the leaders that they were robbed, when they were not given the Administrators of the Year award at the FIFA Ballon d’Or, even when the reality is they will struggle to organise a kindergarten tournament, then it’s probably the right time to say goodbye.

After all, the Warriors have plunged to number 121 in the world.

And, Rufaro now lies in ruins, overrun by weeds, and haunted by the spirits, and ghosts of footballers, probably rebelling against how we have turned their temple into such an eyesore.

What is there still to report about, when we now lose to Somalia, of all teams?

But, turning away from it all, provides the space for the bad people to thrive and it’s not the time to walk away from doing what is right.

 To God Be The Glory!

Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.

Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ronaldooooooooooooooooo!

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