Zifa bows to PSL pressure

BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE

THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has yielded to mounting pressure from Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs to pay the Covid-19 relief money from Fifa in foreign currency following a consultative meeting between the two parties in Harare yesterday.

Zifa received a US$1,5 million rescue package for local football from the world football governing body Fifa to mitigate the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week Zifa stirred the hornet’s nest after they set aside $110,5 million toward assistance of their football affiliates and activities with $25,6 million allocated to PSL.

The clubs were set to get around
US$5 600 each to cushion them from the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and Zifa had proposed to distribute it in local currency, leading to a stalemate.

A consultative meeting that ensued saw Zifa backtracking on their earlier decision before revealing plans to consider paying the money in hard currency.

“We have always received funding from Fifa in US dollars and the norm is that we have to change that at the prevailing exchange rate. That is why we had made a decision to do with the Covid-19 relief fund,” Zifa president Felton Kamambo said after the meeting with PSL clubs.

“Now that our affiliate has come up with some recommendations, the board is going to look at those recommendations. What’s on the ground is that the Covid relief money is not yet in our account, so we have room to make a decision in a week or so on how we are then going to pay.

“Their recommendations to us made some sense and we just want the board to sit down and come up with something.”

However, the Zifa boss insists that it was not PSL pressure that resulted in the meeting, but it was his board that invited the latter to the meeting.

Zifa are also set to publish the full list of how they are going to distribute the Fifa funds to all their affiliates amid calls for transparency in the distribution of funds by local football stakeholders.

“We had a meeting with our PSL clubs and contrary to what is being said, it is us who invited the PSL as part of consultation with affiliates. We discussed the state of football and the resumption of our leagues and quite a number of issues that we discussed, among them the Covid-19 relief fund,” he said.

“We discussed at length on the distribution. In terms of the distribution I am sure the last time when we had a press conference I said these were the highlights, but in terms of the full distribution we are going to publish that tomorrow with a full list of the amount that we have distributed to our affiliates.

“This is the starting point and we have started with our flagship affiliate, which is the PSL and we will be moving to other affiliates throughout the country.”

The resumption of football activities in the country was also a major talking point at the consultative meeting and Zifa are still looking at September for the start date.

But Kamambo revealed that the PSL medical committee and Zifa competition committee would have to do a scientific check, which would include the testing of some of the footballers.

Zifa can only make a decision after receiving that report on August 8.

“What we have done, like I said in our last press conference, the medical and competitions committees are looking into the resumption of our football. We have earmarked September for the resumption of our league, but the committee of doctors and the competition committee will report back to us on August 8, then we will make a decision.

“We have not submitted anything to the Sports and Recreation Commission, we will only submit after the day because we are doing a scientific check on the resumption of our football. We want to submit after the doctors and competitions committee are done and we will have something to support our submission,” he said.

All the premier league clubs were represented at the meeting.

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