Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA have come under fire back home for the confusion that has rocked the Warriors camp during the ongoing 2019 AFCON tournament in Egypt.
The national football association were forced to issue a statement yesterday to confirm that the team will fulfil their last fixture against Democratic Republic of Congo tomorrow night, after another clash with the players over payments of appearance fees and bonuses.
ZIFA had threatened to pull the Warriors out of the AFCON tournament under pressure from the players who had given notice of another industrial action if they did not receive a payment of their remaining US$12 500 each by yesterday.
The Sports Commission said in a brief statement: “Withdrawing from the tournament would have been totally against national interests and a betrayal of the loyal fans who have supported the Warriors.”
ZIFA are also to face an audit by the Sports Commission on their return from Egypt.
Former ZIFA supporters liaison officer Simeon Jamanda yesterday said the events in Warriors camp have been a bad advertisement of the nation on the continent following reports yesterday that some players were set to be sent back home on disciplinary ground after engaging in a fist-fight.
“We are concerned as stakeholders of the game. When the President appointed the fund-raising committee there was a stampede of corporate partners that came in to support the Warriors. What will they say today if they hear that the team they were backing wants to abandon the tournament prematurely?
“ZIFA should not have even considered that idea. This can only be done by irresponsible administrators who don’t have an idea about governance of the game.
“Pulling out of the tournament in the midst attracts fine and suspension and what would the next generation of footballers feel if they are denied the opportunity to play at such a high level?
“No other organisation or country will want to invite you to their tournaments. Firstly, you almost failed to play the opening game against the hosts Egypt and now another game is under threat.
“When all this is happening the foreign journalists are watching and writing stories about Zimbabwe.
“Just pay the players what is due to them. It’s not their fault that they are holding you at ransom, or whatever you say it is, because they departed Zimbabwe with no contracts.
“Where were they going with people who do not have contracts? This shows the administrative shortcomings that we have at ZIFA and I don’t think the guys in the office should be given more time to ruin this beautiful game.
“These people need to be suspended and then an audit takes place. There is need to audit whatever income ZIFA had and if they received money from FIFA for development and they chose to develop football by taking the whole council and the whole board to Cairo on a football holiday then that’s a wrong priority of development and this is the root cause of all these problems that players are disgruntled about.
“Things of this nature, not only tarnish the image of the game locally, but also Zimbabwe as a nation and the President who was behind the fund-raising efforts to make sure that this team is well catered for. It is saddening to hear that discipline is also an issue in the Warriors camp. Many things have been happening and we cannot just sit when we hear news that the team doctor and the fitness trainer were at each other’s throat and then players also getting involved in a fist-fight. That’s bad advertisement. Foreign journalists are watching this and are writing about it,” said Jamanda.
Many local football fans were also fuming on social media, questioning the problems that have bedevilled the Warriors camp.