'Govt should bankroll Warriors'

HARARE - Africa is shocked at how a country as rich as Zimbabwe is failing to settle a $67 000 debt that has seen the national team expelled from the 2018 World Cup and dimmed the future of the country’s fledgling stars.

Some have laid the blame on the Cuthbert Dube-led Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) for failing to heed several calls by Fifa to pay off the debt.

But many believe it is also unfortunate that the Zimbabwean government, in sharp contrast to most African countries, have folded their arms and stood by while Zifa is drowning in debts.

A lot of flak has also been directed towards Zimbabwe’s millionaires, who are among the richest people on the continent but seem not interested to assist the country’s number one sport.

Besides the $67 000 debt owed to former coach Valinhos, Zifa is reeling under a $4 million debt that has seen the deputy sheriff’s office attach property worth thousands of dollars.

Only last week, the association almost had their offices in Bulawayo attached over a $1,5 million debt owed to a local bank.

To pile on the misery, they are currently struggling to raise $600 000 for the country’s participation in the All Africa Games.

“It’s heartbreaking,” former Zimbabwe defender Elasto Kapowezha said on SuperSport football talk show Soccer Africa.

“I have a son who wants to play for Zimbabwe one day. But if we cannot participate, if we cannot fulfil fixtures, if we cannot even have furniture in the Zifa office, what is our future?”

There was also an uproar on Twitter with one Dav Mutendi saying the world football governing body was not sincere in the way they dealt with Zimbabwe.

“Fifa is naughty why can’t they subtract the $60 000 from the annual grant rather than banning the national team?” he questioned.

Soccer Africa analyst from Democratic Republic of Congo Jeff Katala said where was the Zimbabwe government at troubled times such as these.

“Most of the time the government steps in to try and help the national federation. It should happen in Zimbabwe.”

To which Kapowezha retorted: “We do have, but at times Zifa should first put their house in order. There is sponsorship in Zimbabwe. If you look at the rugby, if you look at the cricket there is money from corporates.”

But former Nigeria shot stopper Idah Peterside was far from convinced in vindicating the government from this saga.

“My question is the Zimbabwe national team belongs to the government and it doesn’t belong to the FA. The FA runs it on behalf of the government.

“When you are banned it’s not the FA that is banned its Zimbabwe. In my country the government sponsors the national team. We have what we call the bailout plan. Every time the national team is in trouble it’s the prerogative of the government to bail them out.

However, the former Warriors star felt Zifa are not without blame either, given the amount of money involved and the multiple calls by Fifa to pay the debt.

“They could have dealt with it without government support,” he said.

“But they have been putting out too many fires. Right now the national team was disbanded. The under 17 couldn’t even fulfil fixtures. The Zifa president has been mortgaging his property to try save the association’s property.”

That drew sympathy from Peterside.

“One of the richest men in Africa is from Zimbabwe. What we are saying is don’t always think of what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

“It’s a disgrace for Zimbabwe. They have billionaires in communication yet their youths in Zimbabwe will not have a future because of ?$60 000.”

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