Whose interests are being served?

HARARE - There is a pettiness about our national discourse, especially related to sport, that you wonder if there is any self-introspection for those “openly courting Fifa sanctions” on the national game – just to get rid of Cuthbert Dube.

At best, the calls for government intervention and the dissolution of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board – which will certainly invite a global ban – are daft, and at worst: a dangerous fantasy aimed at taking back our football to the days of chaos.

From the cast of players leading the anti-Dube chorus to the preposterous charges being levelled against the man and his chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, it is quite clear that the latest calls for Sports minister Andrew Langa’s intervention are nothing more than a personal war against these two men.

So poor have been the anti-Dube campaigners at disguising their real motive that they have chosen to claim he has “failed or abandoned the national game” for the comforts of Brazil, yet they also acknowledge his trip to the World Cup was wholly funded by Fifa.

Like all major international sporting oganisations such as the International Cricket Council and the International Olympic Committee, the Sepp Blatter-led organisation invites its member associations to key soccer events yet the self-righteous Francis Zimunyas and Paddington Japajapas – clear mouthpieces of the Asiagate clique – want to tell us it’s a crime of gigantic proportions?

For record purposes, Henrietta Rushwaya and other Fifa dignitaries were at the lavish Michael Angelo Hotel in Sandton, South Africa for the 2010 showcase, but there was no fuss from the same characters.

And then – as is the case today – Zimbabwe had failed to qualify for the global showcase, just as the so-called warriors have never been part of the few African nations out of the 54 teams to appear at the prestigious tournament.

Prior to that, her president Wellington Nyatanga and Leo Mugabe had been at the Germany 2006, and 1994-8 World Cups, but we did not hear any noises.

Thus, one wonders why the Zifa president and his secretary general’s all-expenses-paid trip to Rio de Janeiro is such an issue now when people like Omega Sibanda have also been to the just-ended soccer jamboree’s opening ceremony.

In that regard, one can only surmise that football’s detractors – who are hiding behind a fight against one man and hoping for a return to the free-for-all days – are out on a divide-and-rule mission or jaunt.

It is also known that the likes of Kalusha Bwalya had to leave their highly-rewarding Supersport commentary work to join the Fifa family in Brazil, but this was even lost to Dube’s detractors in their malicious campaign to portray him as an indifferent leader. This is also despite his personal sacrifices.

And in its infantile thinking, the abusive clique has also sought to disguise its shameful bias by taking pot shots at parliament’s sports committee chair Temba Mliswa and suggesting that he had “sold out” by supping with the Zifa hierarchy, in a clear campaign to please a third force.

Yet, the question remains, was it such a bad idea for the Hurungwe West legislator – a man at the centre of key policies and procedures related to sport – to acquaint, and interact with the game’s leadership at the very top?

Dube and Mashingaidze are by no means angelic, and pure, but it gets so worrying when you hear people repeating the same drivel yet Langa has clearly stated that government intervention in sport is not an option.

Furthermore, one gets even more worried when the timing of such coincides with some rumblings – from people who are supposed to be better informed – that Asiagate was a figment of some administrator’s imagination when serious nations like South Africa are actually escalating efforts to tackle the scourge.

At a time Blatter’s institution has been Zimbabwe’s best friend in terms of funding other key aspects of the game – just as President Robert Mugabe attends the United Nations’ general assembly’s yearly – would it have been in our interest for Dube to snub the world soccer governing body for a pity party with the so-called warriors?

Can anyone frankly – and feasibly – say that Ian Gorowa’s team failed due to the former medical executive’s absence or it was a lack of tactical approach or direction from a bunch that had only managed two draws and a defeat within six months of clashing with Tanzania?

In the circumstances, one can only conclude that the unending calls for government interference in football are not only mischievous, but a clear assault on the country’s football that is meant to restore mediocre people at the helm of Zifa for the benefit of a few corrupt individuals.

I have argued in prior instalments that an international ban would not help us – as support for things like administration, football medicine and refereeing would also suffer – but does this charade surprise us for the same cast of discredited players were behind Rafiq Khan’s woes years ago?

*Mugari writes in his personal capacity.

Comments (1)

Good piece Mugari, well said

Chikonamombe - 18 July 2014

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