Grobbelaar savages Zifa

HARARE - Zimbabwe and Liverpool legend Bruce Grobbelaar says the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) must be dissolved.

Grobelaar weighed in on the debate after the world football governing body Fifa expelled the Warriors from participating in the 2018 Russia World Cup qualifiers as punishment for failing to pay former coach Valinhos his severance package.

Zifa, who are currently battling a debt of $6 million, owed the Brazilian whose real name is Jose Claudinei Georgini, $60 000 back in 2012 and with interest rates the amount has likely increased significantly.

The association has also lost to creditors a lot of valuable property in recent months as the cash crisis at 53 Livingstone Avenue intensifies.

In an interview with BBC Sport, the former Liverpool goalkeeper, who played for the Warriors 33 times between 1977 and 1998, said: “I think Zifa needs to be dissolved and the organisation started again from scratch,” he said.

“But how can that happen? Governments cannot interfere in football matters — Fifa suspends countries for that.

“The new Zifa would need to be an independent organisation, but who is going to set that up? There are too many hands in the pot of money that comes from Fifa.

“It would need a strong individual that everyone knows in Zimbabwe.”

Grobbelaar added that the latest development is likely to see Zimbabwe lose players to foreign countries.

“Players are going to try play elsewhere — in the South African or Zambian leagues.

“If they haven’t played for Zimbabwe, they might gain citizenship where they move to and play for them.”

Grobbelaar added: “I have been involved with coaching the national team and I know first hand that Fifa pays the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) so it can pay the coaches, but half of that money goes to the government — and where that goes, I do not know.

“What’s left is not enough to pay for the trips that Zimbabwe go on and certainly not enough to pay the coaches.

“I never got any payment when I was a coach. So I know how frustrating it is for the coaches.”

Meanwhile, Footballers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Paul Gundani took to Facebook to vent his frustrations following the Warriors’ expulsion.

“The latest development in which Fifa has dumped Zimbabwe’s participation in the 2018 World Cup preliminaries over debt robs players an opportunity to showcase their skills,” wrote Gundani.

“This development was avoidable, and the Zifa board and its administrative structure, must take full responsibility.

“Players continue to be the losers in the FA’s shortcomings and the question is, ‘For how long will our game be subjected to such mediocre type of management?”

Zimbabwe was initially ordered by Fifa to make the outstanding payments to the Brazilian coach in August 2012.

Disciplinary proceedings were later opened against Zifa on the request of Valinhos.

“In April 2013, Zifa was given 60 days to pay half the amount it owed Claudinei, and 120 days to pay the full amount. Zimbabwe was given a final grace period to settle the debt before being banned,” Fifa said in a statement on Thursday.

“Zifa was warned that, if they did not pay within the granted periods, the case would — upon the express written request of the creditor — be resubmitted to the Fifa Disciplinary Committee for the possible imposition of harsher sanctions, which could lead to expulsion from a Fifa competition. Zifa did not appeal the decision.”

Fifa added: “In view of the fact that Zifa did not settle its debt to the coach, and following the request of the coach, the case was presented again before the Fifa Disciplinary Committee, which rendered a second decision.

“In its decision, the Fifa Disciplinary Committee granted Zifa a final period of grace of 60 days to settle the debt with Mr Georgini. Additionally, Zifa was warned that, if the debt was not settled within the granted period (and upon the presentation of a formal claim by the creditor), then, in addition to the imposition of a fine, they would be expelled from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia.

“Zifa was informed that the expulsion would be ordered automatically without any further decision needed from the Fifa Disciplinary Committee and, once more, Zifa did not appeal the decision.”

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