Robson Sharuko in CAIRO, Egypt
ZIFA have said they won’t pull out of the AFCON finals, after agreeing terms with the Warriors, which will see the association today pay each member of the team, at least, US$2 500, while a further US$3 000 is expected to be channeled into the players’ and technical staff’s accounts by the fundraising committee.
The association believe the latest developments will ensure the Warriors will train tonight and continue their preparations for the final Group A game against the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday where a win could take them into the knockout stages of this tournament for the first time in their history.
A stalemate between ZIFA and the players on Thursday night had resulted in the association exploring the possibility of pulling the Warriors out of the tournament.
The players wanted to be paid US$12 050 each by today, which would include their final US$5 000 appearance fee for the match against the DRC, before they could commit themselves to fulfilling that game.
However, the team’s head of delegation, Farai Jere, who is also a ZIFA board member, told The Herald today that a follow-up meeting late last night cracked that impasse and the Warriors agreed to fulfill their remaining commitments here if they were paid US$5 500 today.
‘’Like in any negotiations, positions change now and again and after another meeting last night, we were told that if we could source the US$5 500, which is split between the US$2 500 which we committed to pay as ZIFA, and the US$3 000 which they were told will be paid by the fundraising committee, the players will fulfill their AFCON commitments,’’ Jere said.
‘’We have already paid our US$2 500 to each player today and the good thing is that they have confidence in that assurances they have received from the fundraising committee that whatever they have been assured from that side will be paid and, these developments, change everything.
‘’You will appreciate that we are not the only team that is currently seized by such issues here because it’s the nature of such a tournament but, what is important right now, is to assure the nation that we have moved significantly from the positions that were there last night and we have now changed focus towards the game.
‘’We respect our players, they are the most important asset that we have, and we will always try to ensure that we provide conditions that enable them to do very well and what is important right now is that we have a very important game on Sunday and we have to try and win it and make history.’’
Jere revealed they had paid, at least, US$12 050 to each player and members of their technical staff by yesterday and the payment of a further US$2 500 today, and the US$3 000 expected from the fundraising committee, would take the payments to each member of the team to, at least, US$17 550.
‘’I think, we have done quite well in terms of trying to meet the financial obligations to the players and their coaching staff and, if you include the bonus for the draw against Uganda, which is US$3 000, we would be left with a balance of about US$6 650, to each of them, after today’s payments.
‘’From a sum of, at least, US$24 200 for each member of the team, if you factor in the US$3 000 draw bonus and the US$5 000 appearance fee for the upcoming game against the DRC, you can see that we haven’t done as badly as we are being portrayed in some circles in terms of our commitments to the team.’’
Jere said the most important thing today was ‘’to tell the nation that we will fight to do well in this AFCON finals and we are singing one song with our players even though, now and again, the negotiations can be very difficult, we always get a way to find each other and fight for our country.’’