Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
THE Footballers Union of Zimbabwe have urged clubs and players to respect contracts during the current lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has led to serious economic challenges globally and players face the possibility of having their salaries cut since there is no football taking place.
Clubs have been dealt severely as most of the companies that back them have been forced to either scale down or stop operations, resulting in reduced revenue.
Clubs that also depend on gate takings, to augment their income, also have been hit hard. There is also the issue of contracts, some of which are set to expire in June.
FUZ said a win-win situation was needed and they were confident of a solution as their mother body FIFPRO were currently in negotiations with FIFA.
Thomas Sweswe, the FUZ secretary-general, said they were closely working with their global governing body.
“FIFPRO have been working with FIFA to discuss the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic,’’ he said.
‘’These discussions have been about how to protect public health, and minimise the economic impact on football players, clubs and leagues.
The talks have so far focused, among other things, on player registration windows and contract duration. The discussions will continue.’’
The former Kaizer Chiefs defender said, as a union, they were also actively providing counsel to players.
“Separately, with FIFPRO, we are working hard to provide legal advice to footballers, and social support such as mental health and second-career planning.
‘’We are also conscientising players about the precautionary measures that have to be taken in the prevention of getting infections.
‘’We are using all our FUZ social media platforms, Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook and instagram to deliver key messages,” he said.
FIFA are currently putting together a “Football Marshall Plan” which will see the governing body deploy some of its $2.7 billion reserve funds to help mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis on the global football industry.
FUZ say this is a welcome development.
“FIFA is discussing a global assistance fund which would help mitigate some of the effects of the coronavirus on professional football.
“However, this is not a bailout.
“The most important matter, for now, is that employment conditions of the players are not unilaterally changed, particularly in relation to player salaries.
‘’Football player salaries in Zimbabwe, and many other countries, are modest and changes to their employment contract could severely impact their livelihood.
‘’FIFPRO believe there should be more funds made available by continental, and national ruling bodies, to help players and clubs facing hardship,” said Sweswe.
The player’s body added that there might be need to meet with stakeholders to map out a way forward.
“Certainly, we will help the players as always when the need arises.
“We urge clubs and players to respect contractual agreements.’’
FUZ have been playing a leading role in addressing the plight of footballers in the country.
Recently they mobilised some funds for Dynamos skipper Partson Jaure and, within a short period, managed to raise US$5 000 to assist the player with his hospital bills. Desmond Maringwa and his team once assisted Edward “Duduza” Sadomba to get legal representation during his contractual case with a Tunisian club. Sadomba eventually won the case.