FORMER Zimbabwe captain Benjani Mwaruwari was fuming yesterday after reports in a local Sunday newspaper claimed he had sharply criticised the way ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa was running domestic football.
The report claimed Benjani said the domestic game had been invaded by politicians and he was unhappy with that and was now preparing to challenge Chiyangwa for the ZIFA leadership next year.
Benjani, who has been home since his arrival 11 days ago to attend the burial of his former Warriors’ teammate, the late Edzai Kasinauyo, described the report as a creation which had nothing to do with him.
“Firstly, I want to make it clear that I have not been back to South Africa, as claimed in that report, since I came here for Edzai’s funeral and I am only returning to South Africa tomorrow (today),’’ said Benjani.
“Secondly, during my stay here at home I have not given any interview to any journalist on any issues and I have received a number of requests for interviews but I couldn’t do them because of my tight schedule.
“Thirdly, the report claiming that I gave an indepth interview to any journalist saying that I’m unhappy with Chiyangwa or the way football is being run in this country is not true because I never said that and it’s just a creation which has nothing to do with me.
“The report claims I gave the interview from my base in South Africa but you only need to go to the airport in Harare to get confirmation that I have not returned to South Africa since I landed there to attend Edzai’s funeral.
“I have been in Harare all along, attending to some business, and it’s sad that some people want to use my name in the politics of football in this country and I will not accept that because I am not a controversial figure and people should not put words into my mouth and then tell the world that it’s Benjani saying this and that.
“I have my views about a lot of things and I prefer to keep them to myself because I am not a person who enjoys being in the newspapers.’’Benjani said it was interesting that, while the report claimed he spoke from his base in South Africa on Friday, he was meeting Chiyangwa on the same day in Harare.
“I had a meeting with the ZIFA boss on Friday for more than two hours and we spoke on a number of things related to football and I believe it was a very productive meeting that can help our game,’’ he said.
“How can I be meeting Chiyangwa on the same day someone says I am in South Africa criticising the same person I would be meeting? “I am not a person who likes controversy and I don’t know why my name is being dragged into all the politics in Zimbabwe football to the extent of creating stories that I said this and that when I never gave such interviews.
“I have been receiving calls from all over the world today (yesterday), including my family, asking why I was dragging myself into the politics of football, because of that report, and I have been telling them that I never ever had an interview with any local journalist saying all that has been reported.
“I have also been forced to call Chiyangwa to tell him that all this has nothing to do with me and I also called the journalist who did that story and he said he spoke to someone in South Africa whom he believed was me on a number that is not mine and that’s disappointing.’’