The world football governing body (Fifa) says it has given the Philip Chiyangwa-led executive close to $2 million for administration, pitch development, women and grassroots support — but the women’s league is in tatters due to lack of funding.
BY XOLISANI NCUBE
The disclosure by Fifa comes at a time the women’s league is in disarray due to lack of funding and organisational challenges that have resulted in women football clubs boycotting games demanding for money and change of the executive.
In an email to Standardsport last week, Oleg Sokol, a member of the Fifa communications department said the world football governing body has given Zifa a total of $851 000 to assist in the costs of operating the association since January 2016.
On top of that, they have also funded various projects under the Fifa Forward Football Development programme to the tune of $1 million.
“Fifa has provided financial support of $851 000 to Zifa to assist in the costs of operating the federation since January 2016,” read a response from Fifa.
Chiyangwa took over as Zifa president in December 2015 and his term expires next year in March although there are some within his executive who are pushing for early polls so that they can part ways with the association.
“The association has access to $750 000 annually for football projects such as pitches, competitions and women’s football,” read the email from Fifa.
“The aim is to improve the way we develop and support football across the globe, so that the sport can reach its potential in every nation and so that everyone that wants to take part can do so without barriers.”
According to Fifa, under the cost of operating fund, part of the money is meant to take care of the employment of a general secretary, a technical director and management of the women’s league as well as the junior league for both sexes.
“It is vital that these funds are used in the correct way so that they have the maximum impact for football on the ground,” Fifa stated in the email to Standardsport.
Chiyangwa and his board member finance, Philemon Machana refused to comment on the Fifa funding, with the association president describing this reporter as “a nuisance” after being quizzed on how he has used the money from the world football governing body.
“Due to litigation between myself as president of Zifa and yourself, and with the current proceedings against your group papers, all your correspondence should now be directed to my lawyers. This was also agreed with the lawyers representing the publishers of your paper, whom I am copying to see that you remained a nuisance,” Chiyangwa wrote back upon being questioned on the Fifa money.
The Zifa president said this at a time his deputy, Omega Sibanda was on Wednesday last week holding meetings at the association’s rented office in Highlands — Chiyangwa’s private property — allegedly pushing the women football teams to fulfil their matches despite lack of funding which had forced them to boycott playing the domesticgames.
The 22 clubs in the women’s league last month resolved to boycott all matches demanding money and the exit of the executive, which is chaired by Rosemary Kanonge on allegations of being a pawn of the Zifa team as well as neglecting the girl child.
Although Kanonge was not picking up calls, she was quoted in the local media after a closed door meeting with Sibanda on Wednesday, saying that clubs should play their matches while their grievances are being attended to.
But some teams are adamant, saying women’s football has been neglected by Zifa and Kanonge and her executive were doing nothing to push for funding from the national association.
Chiyangwa has threatened litigation against Standardsport after publication of the questionable disposal of Zifa properties and the general administration of the association, which stands accused of using unorthodox means to evade paying creditors.
Some of the mechanisms being used, according to documents at hand, have been the transfer of funds from Zifa accounts to private accounts of individuals linked to the association and some of them being Machana’s Conduit Holdings.
Also, Standardsport has reported that some of Chiyangwa’s employees are now board of directors at Zifa Private Limited — a subsidiary of Zifa and are selling the association’s properties — even the abandoned Zifa head office in Harare.
Information at hand has suggested that Chiyangwa’s acquaintances such as Marshal Jonga now run private companies likes Hansporte Investments and have been given contracts to manage office furniture at the Zifa Village for a fee, raising corporate governance issues.