Zim football in dire straits…Zifa bank on Fifa bailout

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
ZIFA have acknowledged that domestic football has been crippled by the coronavirus outbreak and badly require a stimulus package from FIFA to help the national sport find its feet again.

The association are still waiting for the world football governing body to respond to their request for relief funds to cushion their members from the devastating impact of the global pandemic.

The association this month approached FIFA for assistance after football was brought to a standstill worldwide.

ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela told The Herald at the weekend they are still hopeful of FIFA’s intervention which they hope will ease the financial burden on their various affiliates that were caught up unawares.

“We are still waiting, probably next week (this week) we should get some responses.

“The situation is dire for football. So, we approached them on behalf of our affiliates who are suffering from the effects of this coronavirus lockdown.

“It has not spared anyone, so as a member of the FIFA football family we also applied for assistance,” said Gwesela.

Domestic football is currently in limbo after the Government ordered a ban on all sporting activities and public gatherings to help deal with the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

ZIFA last week indicated football may only be able to return between August and September, subject to recommendations from the Government and health authorities. But clubs and other entities under ZIFA are incurring costs during the period to sustain their operations but with no income coming their way.

“ZIFA, just like all the other institutions and associations across the globe, has been adhering to the lockdown implemented by government and health authorities to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,” Gwesela said in the latest edition of the association’s monthly newsletter.

“However, the football mother-body has not literally closed shop. The association have taken note of the need to find some relief for the various affiliates and have sought the assistance of FIFA to mitigate financial distress caused by the pandemic.”

ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, revealed the board had already taken the initiative to help all affiliates, which include elite leagues for both men and women, education institutions, Futsal, Beach Soccer and regional leagues to overcome the challenges posed by the lockdown.

However, the request by ZIFA is subject to approval by FIFA after a careful scrutiny.

Many other associations across the region have also applied for the bailout.

But should FIFA agree to ZIFA’s plea, there will be some relief for the affiliates, some of whom face uncertainty with their sponsors because of the depressed business environment.

“What we did was to write to all our affiliates and we asked them to comprehensively demonstrate the financial impact of the coronavirus on their institutions,” said Kamambo.

“We gave the affiliates up to April 24 to compile their requirements and we then consolidated all that data to present to FIFA whom we had already approached with a view to helping us as Zimbabwe in terms of our own peculiar situation.

“In some countries like South Africa and Zambia, football was already in progress when the coronavirus struck yet in our case our clubs were just about ready to start the 2020 season.

“Some clubs had invested in new recruits; others had spent on pre-season training camps and now they also have to pay players and staff who are at home and are not in a position to execute their daily duties.

“As ZIFA we were also not spared as our new coach Zdravko Logarušic had just commenced actual work and had held his first training camp with the home-based Warriors in preparation for the CHAN tournament which would have started in Cameroon on April 4.

“So, we are looking to get assistance with some relief fund for all that which would then cascade to our affiliates in line with the requirements they tabled.

“We believe that if FIFA helps us as we largely expect them to do, football in Zimbabwe across all the regions and leagues will be able to take off when this COVID-19 crisis is beyond us,’’ Kamambo told the ZIFA website.

FIFA recently announced that it was availing US$150 million to its 211 member associations and the funding should be used to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus on football in member associations.

And ZIFA applied for a US$2 million bailout from FIFA, to help the domestic national game deal with the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

A number of other FAs around the world, including those in Europe who are usually in very stable financial standing, have also applied for a similar bailout from the world football governing body.

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