By Anesu Chakanetsa
ZIMBABWEANS are hungry for international football, but sadly the powers that be seem to be on a sabbatical.
The green or gold national teams’ replicas continue to gather dust in respective closets following the country’s suspension by FIFA.
The Warriors, the Mighty Warriors and all the Young Warriors’ teams are making headlines for the wrong reason – missing out on tournaments successively.
The recent National Under-20 team’s exclusion, by FIFA, from a World Cup qualifier group stage campaign adds another thorn in Zimbabwe’s football calloused flesh.
And the young hopefuls, the current 20s and unders, are suffering.
These are the types of tournaments where they get ‘discovered’.
Even teams like Dynamos and FC Platinum, that are in a race for a league title, are playing for local glory only because even if one of them scoops the gong, they will not play in the CAF Champions League next season.
In fact, FC Platinum, which was supposed to be drawn for this year’s CAF Champions League preliminary round was booted out because of the current national disaster.
Clubs from Zimbabwe will continue to miss the African Safari if the current fiasco continues. The crisis in Zimbabwean football has many consequences; footballers have families to take care of.
Some took the risk of abandoning other money-spinning activities preferring to use their God-given talent.
And these players are opening up on social media to air their views.
The likes of Marshall Munetsi, Tatenda Mukuruva and Tino Kadewere want the national team back.
They want their time.
No doubt they can be a better ‘dream team’ if the soccer house is put in order.
Most of these players are 28 years and under. They include the likes of Marvelous Nakamba, Munetsi, Mukuruva, Jordan Zemura, Kadewere, Bill Antonio, Andrew Mbeba and Mason Mushore, among others.
However, most of the local guys, former players and current ones, are afraid to comment on this issue yet their lifelines depend on it.
A contemporary English adage says: ‘You can only be a best student when you have the best teacher’.
In this context, the students are talented but their mentors are letting them down. Several ZIFA presidents came and ‘enriched’ themselves yet they had promised results.
They got what they wanted and left And, as things stand, ZIFA seems lost The ZIFA Board is facing the danger of missing most of the timelines set by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) for the implementation of football reforms in the country.
The Board, which came into office in December 2018, has about three months left before its tenure comes to an end.
In accordance with the constitution, the ZIFA Congress, which is the association’s supreme decision-making body, is also expected to be out of office by then.
With this headache, ZIFA are next month expected to call an emergency meeting seeking the extension of their mandate so that all the decisions to be carried after December would be legal and binding.
Both ZIFA and the SRC are looking to have a quick resolution to the problems facing Zimbabwean football, and to expedite the readmission of the country into the FIFA family.
As a result, ZIFA, SRC and the ZIFA Restructuring Committee met for the first time in Harare recently when updates and expectations were tabled.
“The purpose of the meeting was, in the first instance, to receive an update from ZIFA regarding the implementation of certain of the conditions to which the lifting of the suspension of the ZIFA Executive Committee on June 8 2022, was subject to,” said the SRC statement.
“Secondly, the meeting provided an opportunity for BDO Chartered Accountants to provide a progress report on the forensic audit which they are presently carrying out on the financial affairs of ZIFA.
Lastly, the Restructuring Committee gave an update on the progress it has made in discharging the tasks forming a part of its terms of reference.
For its part, the SRC outlined its expectations for parties to start to put into place an agreed framework populated by specific tasks and deadlines (‘Implementation Matrix’) regarding matters agreed as requiring reform.”
The SRC expected ZIFA to convene an Extraordinary General Meeting next month to consider the findings of the BDO forensic audit.
Since the restructuring of football is taking long, and the current ZIFA Board’s term of office would have ended by the time of elections, any process leading to the elections without the involvement of FIFA would be null and void.
For any ZIFA election to be valid, it needs to be supervised by FIFA.
Currently, ZIFA are under FIFA suspension and efforts are being put in place before readmission is sought.
Since all parties appear to be in agreement, unlike during the previous era when the ZIFA executive committee led by Felton Kamambo refused to co-operate with the authorities, ZIFA needed more free rope, with the SRC continuing to play an advisory role.
The ZIFA Board claim they have been working behind the scenes to fulfil the reforms outlined by the SRC as part of conditions given to the current football leadership led by Gift Banda.
The Board has put in place systems to improve refereeing, which was one of the conditions put up by the SRC.
Someone once said: ‘Change is painful, it takes long to let go off past habits.’
There allegedly have been regrettable habits in Zimbabwe football, like match fixing, where bad officiating seems to be the catalyst compounded by sexual exploitation and financial racketeering, among other ills.
Those are the same allegations that have bedevilled French Football Federation (FFF) where its Board has been accused of malodorous sexual behaviour.
And the Government of France has intervened to solve the matter. However, there has not been any speculation whether FIFA is going to ban France from international football. For now Zimbabwean football is in the doldrums.
Only time will tell when our teams will return to the international arena — with FIFA’s blessing of course.