HARARE - Embattled Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has issued an apology to the nation and Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa after the national team on Friday night snubbed a send-off dinner ahead of their participation at the 2017 Africa Cup Nations finals (Afcon).
“Zifa apologises to all football stakeholders in Zimbabwe and ... to the acting president … Mnangagwa, the Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane, the Sports and Recreation Commission and our valued sponsors for the failure by the Zimbabwe senior men’s team to attend the scheduled send-off ceremony at Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare and the team’s consequent failure to travel to Cameroon for an international friendly match,” read a statement by the association’s acting chief executive Joseph Mamutse.
Things came to a head on Friday night when the Warriors snubbed a send-off dinner organised by the Sports ministry demanding the immediate payment of their owed appearance fees and allowances.
Players were demanding an appearance fee of $5 000 each — per game, a daily allowance of $150 locally and $500 in foreign lands.
But with Zifa insisting on giving the players a paltry $500 Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa, skipper Willard Katsande and his vice Cuthbert Malajila ended up locked in a meeting seeking a solution that never came.
The circus saw the Warriors’ intended departure yesterday morning being cancelled. It also foiled a ceremony where the government intended to unveil a $1million package for the team.
But following a series of meetings yesterday — between the players’ representatives and Zifa officials — a solution was reached and the team is now expected to leave for Cameroon this afternoon.
And last night, Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa confirmed that all things are now in place for the team to travel to Cameroon to round off preparations ahead of the Afcon finals in Gabon after an agreement was reached between his association and players’ representatives.
Chiyangwa yesterday agreed that the Warriors will now get the $5 000 appearance fees they had asked for and $400 in daily allowances while winning bonuses per match will see players getting $6 000 each.
If the Warriors go beyond the group stages they stand to get
$2 000 at every stage.
The team is now expected in Yaounde tomorrow to round off their preparations with a friendly match against the Indomitable Lions on Tuesday as initially scheduled.
Pasuwa’s charges will then connect to Franceville, Gabon on January 12 in time for their tournament opener against Algeria three days later.
The national team’s preparations for the Afcon have been characterised by chaos as Zifa struggled to raise funds to adequately prepare the Warriors, who are in a tough Group B alongside Africa heavyweights Algeria, Senegal and Tunisia.
Zifa, however, feels some of the demands by the team are not realistic as the association has only managed to raise a total of $1,25 million — $250 000 from NetOne and the government chipping in with a $1 million package.
“The Zifa executive committee upgraded the Zifa Village to manage the escalating accommodation costs for all national teams; however, the players refused to camp at this site citing what they termed ‘deplorable’ living conditions despite the acquisition of new furniture and a facelift of the facility,” Mamutse added.
“The reason behind Zifa’s choice of this camping site was to ensure that most of the funds raised would go towards players’ welfare instead of settling astronomical accommodation bills. Zifa believes that the state of the village is better than the lodgings which the team used during the qualification stages of the tournament.
“The association is open to allowing stakeholders to take a tour of the village to verify this assertion. However, to allow for the preparations to continue and to preserve the image of our sponsors, Zifa had to compromise and allow the team to check into a top Harare hotel thus further depleting the little resources at hand.”
On players’ allowances: “Zifa, before the $1 000 000 injection, submitted an initial proposal to the team for allowances and bonuses totalling $1 617 024. 99, which was countered by the players with their proposal totalling $2 933 150.
“Zifa further revised the proposal after acquiring the $1 000 000 injection from the government by passing the entire $1 000 000 to the team giving a final figure of $2 645 525 — a figure which was now very close to the players’ initial demand of
$2 933 150.
“Again, the players changed goal posts and submitted another counter proposal of $5 737 250. The second proposal from Zifa would result in each player getting around $67 000 for a successful Afcon campaign with the group stages earning each player an appearance fee of $1 000 per match, $2 000 winning bonus per match and $6 000 qualification bonus for proceeding to the next stage.
“Furthermore, each player would get $50 local daily allowance and $100 foreign daily allowance.”
Zifa also argued that players’ method of payment demands made it difficult for the association.
“Based on the available resources and the fact that the budget is partly funded by prize money as we progress in the tournament, the players would like to get their money as the tournament progresses,” Mamutse said.
“This situation is not sustainable as the Afcon proceeds are only disbursed at least 30 days after the completion of the tournament. Furthermore, the players would like to be paid their money in cash and have demanded to have all their money carried to Gabon in cash which is in violation of the exchange control regulations and it is impossible considering the current cash challenges in the country.
“Zifa had proposed that the players would have their money wired by the sponsors directly into their accounts at every stage of the tournament.”
The association said they would issue an investigation to establish if there is no element of sabotage and if detected; action will be taken to ensure that those involved will face the full wrath of the association.