Editorial Comment: FIFA mission to Zim  another failure Alas, there will be nothing to smile about when the NC led by Lincoln Mutasa clock the end of their mandate, at least for now.

IN eight days’ time on June 30, the initial mandate of the FIFA-appointed ZIFA Normalisation Committee (NC), tasked with reforming Zimbabwe’s football will come to an end.

Next Sunday was supposed to be a period during, which the local football fraternity would be celebrating the end of the NC’s tenure as a milestone and a coming of age from an era of misery in the chequered history of administration of the country’s biggest sport.

Alas, there will be nothing to smile about when the NC led by Lincoln Mutasa clock the end of their mandate, at least for now.

The hope and dreams, which had followed the NC’s appointment by FIFA have been fading with each month and where they had been warmly welcomed, Mutasa and his colleagues will be very much resented by the time they officially wave goodbye to the ZIFA administrative corridors.

As the nation looks back to the year under the tenure of the NC, one gets the sinking feeling that it has yet been another wasted period for Zimbabwean football.

The reforms that were supposed to be anchored by the implementation of proper governance systems have not taken place.

There is not even a roadmap to elections for all affiliate structures.

Even more worrying is that the NC have been unable to put systems for long term athlete development.

ZIFA under the NC have not put in place systems that would allow the national teams the Warriors, the Mighty Warriors and the respective Young Warriors and Young Mighty Warriors teams to be competitive.

It boggles the mind just trying to imagine what Mutasa, his deputy Cynthia Malaba and committee members Rosemary Mugadza, Nyasha Sanyamandwe and Sikhumbuzo Ndebele, have spent much of their time doing since their July 11, 2023 appointment.

We wonder if FIFA as the NC’s appointing authority can afford to sit back and smile about the state of the Zimbabwean football.

It has been classic case of change without change.

Nothing much has changed from the same problem-riddled association that endured a FIFA suspension between March 2022 and July 2023.

As reported in this publication yesterday, the Warriors are now ranked 129th on the FIFA world rankings and 38th in Africa, even falling well below such countries like of Sierra Leone (122), Malawi (125), Cyprus (126), Central Africa Republic (127), Niger (128) and war-torn Sudan who rose six places up to 121.

The same old failures to put governance systems in place are existing.

That it had to take the COSAFA secretariat to issue them with an ultimatum to submit the Warriors squad for the 2024 COSAFA Cup tournament by June 21, underscores the enormity of the poor governance obtaining at ZIFA.

Yet for good measure ZIFA have uncharacteristically enjoyed the FIFA goodwill, with the world soccer governing body availing huge financial resources for the local game’s programmes.

FIFA, however, ought to have done more due diligence on the problems that have for decades afflicted Zimbabwe before deciding on whether just the appointment of a Normalisation Committee was the right antidote that would rid the game of its challenges.

As it stands, the FIFA prescription for a Normalisation Committee for Zimbabwe has not yielded the expected success as no major reforms are in place.

Football, the world over is successfully run through different standing committees, for such portfolios like club licensing, ethics, disciplinary, finance, human resources, competitions, protocol, to name but a few.

It is, however, saddening to note that one of the key conditions given to Mutasa’s committee over the reform process was that they needed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government through the Sports and Recreation Commission and the SRC have been clear that the agreement is yet to be signed.

The NC needed to thoroughly probe and find lasting solutions to the cases of abuse of female referees and to see to it that Women’s football that has been long in the doldrums, was revived.

Instead, they have not even done enough for the Warriors, as to even arrange a training camp for the COSAFA Cup despite the assignment having been on their diary of events for several months.

It did not even matter to the NC that a draw for the COSAFA groupings was conducted in Johannesburg last week with Zimbabwe being drawn into Group B, which includes Comoros, Kenya and Zambia.

The Warriors will now likely just hop onto the aeroplane to Port Elizabeth on Monday without having a chance to group and give the coaches and medical crew an opportunity to assess the fitness levels of the players who have been called up.

Now that is not an ideal manner to prepare for a tournament of the magnitude of COSAFA.

Everything ought to have been planned for with everyone at ZIFA being hands on deck in their respective tasks and ensuring the Warriors would be primed compete for honours in Port Elizabeth.

Previous ZIFA administrations, rightfully, accorded the COSAFA Cup the seriousness it deserves as it a rare platform where the Warriors stars are born and give players more game time outside of the limited FIFA international friendlies.

It is by no fluke that the Warriors have subsequently been the second most successful team after Zambia’s Chipolopolo, who have seven titles,  one more than Zimbabwe.

But at the rate the NC have struggled at ZIFA, reclaiming success in the COSAFA Cup now a long shot for the Warriors.

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