Last Thursday in Ethiopia, Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad defeated incumbent Issa Hayatou in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) elections to end the Cameroonian’s 29-year stranglehold on African football.
Comment: The Standard Editor
It was probably the first time a Caf election had so much significance for Zimbabwean football because of Zifa and Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa’s role as the campaign manager for Ahmad.
Chiyangwa publicly put his neck on the line to secure that victory for the 57-year-old Madagascan, which has earned him rave reviews all over the continent for playing a key role in Hayatou’s demise.
However, while Chiyangwa continues to bask in the glory of Hayatou’s fall, it is also our sincere hope that he does not continue to lose sight of his primary responsibilities, which are to take Zimbabwe out of the myriad of problems that the local game continues to face.
A brief look at Chiyangwa’s record since becoming Zifa president over a year ago shows that the businessman and politician seems to be more focused on his personal ambitions for higher office at CAF and Fifa, which although commendable, could come at a huge cost for the local game.
A win for Hayatou last week would have meant his defiant campaign for Ahmad would have proved costly indeed for the local game, which is already in a dire state.
It’s not a secret that Zifa is currently weighed down by a $7 million debt, and with no solution in sight almost a year since the Chiyangwa-led Zifa board came into office, it continues to threaten the future of the game in the country.
Corporates have become more reluctant to sponsor football due to endless infighting, in most cases at the instigation of Zifa, with its recent nasty fallout with the Premier Soccer League being a case in point.
Sponsorship is the lifeblood of the sports industry all over the world, moreso here in Zimbabwe due to the harsh economic climate currently prevailing in the country.
It’s also saddening to note that the local game is almost at a standstill as all the Zimbabwe national soccer teams from the Under-17 up to the senior national teams both in the men’s and women’s categories do not have coaches.
The situation is further worsened by the fact that Zifa is unlikely to attract any high-profile coaches because of the association’s checkered past when it comes to honouring its obligations to former national team coaches.
Zimbabwe’s prospects of hosting any continental football tournaments are also very low due to the current deplorable state of our stadia, which will make it virtually impossible for the country to host even the Africa Under-17 Cup of Nations.
Zimbabwe has never hosted a major football tournament like the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), with CAF stripping the country of its rights to host the 2000 edition of the tournament partly due to the appalling state of local football stadia.
While Chiyangwa declared that Zimbabwe could benefit from Ahmad’s election, hosting major tournaments like Afcon could remain a distant dream unless the Zifa boss uses his privileged position in world football to bring development to Zimbabwean soccer.