Govt warns Zifa, PSL again

HARARE - Government has again warned Zifa and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to find a lasting solution to their squabbles which have threatened to plunge the local game into the abyss.

Zifa and the PSL are currently involved in a nasty showdown over how the number of teams which will be relegated promoted into the top flight league.

The stand-off was sparked at the Zifa Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the end of October where councillors voted to promote four teams and relegate four.

At the start of the season, only two teams were going to be relegated while the four Division One champions would play in a play-off to determine the two teams to be promoted.

As the wrangle escalates, PSL chairperson Peter Dube together with CAPS United board chair Lewis Uriri and Highlanders chief executive Ndumiso Gumede have been suspended.

Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa has also ordered acting PSL chairperson Kenni Mubaiwa to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the league’s chief executive Kenny Ndebele.

The PSL has already approached the Court of Arbitration for Sports (Cas) to deal with the matter.

Delta Beverages, who are the league’s main sponsors, have already expressed their concerns and are unlikely to renew their deal with the PSL.

But speaking at CAPS United’s award ceremony to honour their players for the just-ended season on Thursday night, Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane called for an end to the current impasse.

“Our government has always supported the sporting industry since independence and we have through the Sports and Recreation Commission continued to avail support to all sporting disciplines,” Hlongwane said in a speech read on his behalf by the acting-permanent secretary in his  ministry Lysias Kunaka.

“It is, however, saddened that recent events in our domestic game where Zifa and their top affiliate the PSL continue to struggle over matters that could be solved amicably by just making sure that all decisions are designed to ensure that the game of football be the ultimate winner and not for personal aggrandisement,” he said.

“So whatever you do the game of football must be the ultimate winner. You must not pursue personal vendettas. The SRC will definitely crack the whip on those who don’t want football to be the ultimate winner.”

In November, Hlongwane also urged Zifa to exercise restraint but it seems his calls are falling on deaf ears.

“Zifa is not a political organisation, it’s a football administration authority and we want them to be cautious on how they arrive at these decisions,” Hlongwane said.

“As the ministry responsible, we have decided that we must put our voice on this important matter of how decisions are being taken as far as the administration of football in the country is concerned.

“We are very concerned as government that certain decisions may kill the potential for investment in football forever if the authorities are not careful in terms of how

they handle particular aspects of administration of football in the country.”

Today, PSL clubs are scheduled to meet to map a way forward as it has become abundantly clear Zifa has taken a militant stance in the matter.

It still not clear whether the meeting between the PSL’s clubs will go ahead as planned after lawyers representing the 16 clubs queried the appointment of Mubaiwa as the acting chairperson.

The lawyers representing the PSL clubs wrote to Zifa on Thursday reminding them that their powers only lay in the appointment of an Electoral College and not office bearers of the affiliates.

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