Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
South Africa-based businessman Trevor Carelse-Juul has ruled himself out of the ZIFA elections set for this year because he feels the environment is not conducive for him to seek another mandate to run local football.
Carelse-Juul finished second to Philip Chiyangwa, polling 13 votes against Chiyangwa’s 40, out of the 58 cast two years ago. He had also lost another battle against Cuthbert Dube. But Carelse-Juul, who was in Zimbabwe for a couple of weeks for some development work, said he remains passionate about the game, but feels it’s not the right time for him to launch another bid for the ZIFA presidency.
“I have been asked by many in football, ‘what do I think about the present state of the game in Zimbabwe and will I stand for elections?’
“Let me make it clear at this moment, I do not intend participating in ZIFA elections. I am, as an architect and developer, totally committed to playing a professional role in the redevelopment of Zimbabwe and contributing to efforts to restore legacy.
“This is where my focus is now. I am focused on development, so I can’t get involved in football. We have to build our country. Our President (Emmerson Mnangagwa), has set the pace and direction so everybody needs to get on board, get involved and contribute to restore legacy and rebuild our nation.”
Carelse-Juul says the game has a lot of questions which need answers.
“I believe the question that need to be answered is, what has been going on with the development of the game, why is there controversy with our football leadership and why has football not been run according to the constitution?
“Why have they failed to have approved audits on time and to have the required meetings on time? Is there any justifiable reason for these failings, that is the question?
“I have made a decision to stay out of football, but this does not mean I do not love the game and don’t want our football to succeed,” he said.
The businessman also took a swipe at people fanning divisions in football which he says was detrimental to the game.
“It is sad to see so much fighting in Zimbabwean football with different camps pulling in different directions with various suspensions, legal and police cases.
“How can football develop if people keep fighting each other and no one is supporting the leadership? How does the business community get involved and support a divided football community that is not developing?
“My hope and wish is that the leadership can unite our football and create an enabling environment for the nation to succeed with the football-loving public enjoying football and being proud of our football success. This continued fighting and the many challenges created over the years are probably (the reason) why I and many others may be staying out of the game,” said Carelse-Juul.
The businessman would also have to pass FIFA integrity checks if he wanted to fight for the ZIFA leadership. He was the ZIFA boss during the Dream Team days and he challenged football stakeholders to return the game to those glory days.
“It is possible and a united football nation can succeed. I am always happy to give support and advice, but at this moment that is all I can do. I pray that before the expected elections take place, the right environment is put in place for the successful incumbent to have the full support of the football public and succeed.
“I would love nothing more than to see Zimbabwe football succeed locally and internationally and I am happy to support this process and a leadership that will unite and develop our football.
“What I mean by success is the development of youth football, the business community participating and fully supporting football, the crowds returning to the stadiums, with our best players performing on the international stage, especially in the English Premier League and the success of our international team rising up the ranking to at least the top 50. We have achieved this in the past,” he said.
ZIFA are expected to hold their annual general meeting on February 17. Chiyangwa, who is in Oman on FIFA business, has been facing a barrage of criticism from those who claim his board could plunge local football into a constitutional and leadership crisis of monumental proportions should they, as is largely expected, extend their term of office beyond March 27 this year.
However, the ZIFA board argue they won’t be in violation of their constitution as long as they hold their polls this year and the Congress, set to meet in two weeks’ time, can provide them with the mandate to craft an election Road Map which will culminate in the polls for the national football leadership later this year.