Zifa debt worries Fifa

HARARE - Fifa is concerned that football development in the country is being hampered by the financial troubles currently besieging the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).

Speaking at a media briefing with the local press, visiting Fifa Development Programmes Africa senior manager Zelkifli Ngoufonja said they will work with Zifa to find ways to alleviate the debt.

The Cameroonian, who is responsible for all development programs on the continent, arrived in Harare on Monday together with the Fifa Southern Africa development manager, Ashford Mamelodi.

For the entire week, the duo had been holding meeting with the Zifa creditors who are owned an excess of $6 million by the struggling association.

Last month, the Deputy Sherriff descended on Zifa Village in Mt Hampden and the association’s headquarters to attached property as part of restitution for this debt.

“I would really want to see next time when we come back here that we are talking about football. Most countries that we go, there is so much passion within the media about why the national team is not doing well?” said Ngoufonja.

“All the questions that we have had are linked to the finances. It is really sad and unfortunately it is the reality today.

“I think we are moving away from the game. It is really about football in the end, this is our business.

“We cannot do our business if there is any threat against it and that’s why we really want to come back to football by working with the basics which is the Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 working with young boys and girls so that people can really get back to the core of our business which is football.”

Ngoufonja, who began his role at the Fifa headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland in May this year, said the world football federation will not give Zifa a blank cheque to pay off this debt.

“It’s not a secret that the football association is having trouble in terms of finances so we had to meet with people who are creditors to the football association in order for us to understand and gain a better picture of the situation,” he said.

“Being new in this position I need to have all elements at hand that can allow to work together with the federation to see how best we can advice.

“The association is at a situation where they really do not have the finances to repay all these things. From what I understand now, the chunk of the debt is credited to the national team.

“This is huge and that’s why we very much encourage the state to work together with the association, they cannot do it alone.

“Some of the debt was accrued by some people who are no longer there but they did it in the name of the association.

“Now we understand better. We have been in discussions with the creditors how best we can forgive and move on.

“At the end of the day it is really the Zimbabwe football that is in danger so how do we prevent the worst from happening?”

Ngoufonja also commented on the issue of the Zifa Private Limited, an investment company used by the association to register their properties and assets.

“We have to be very transparent here. We always try to be transparent. I mentioned earlier that the mission was to understand and also the Zifa Private Limited, how is it protecting the assets within the federation,” he said.

“For us in the end what is important is that Zimbabwe people benefit. It is not an asset that belongs to individuals and we are very keen that it remains the case.

“What we do not want to see is that when we come back next year that the Zimbabwe people cannot access this place because it now belongs to an individual.

“That is not why Fifa invests in countries football development programs

“So we really needed to understand that relationship. This is something underway and it is a process that is ongoing.

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