The Sunday Mail
PREMIER Soccer League clubs, which are reeling under a tough operating environment, have started making enquiries with the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) as they seek to access funds that have been extended by the world football governing body, FIFA.
ZIFA recently received US$500 000 from FIFA as part of the latter’s Forward 2.0 Programme funds, which were ordinarily due to the association in July.
In bringing forward the disbursements, FIFA considered the need to cushion member associations already badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
ZIFA, on their part, have also lobbied FIFA for extra funding to bail out their affiliates.
But it is the share of the FIFA Forward 2.0 Funds — a US$1 million grant which ZIFA receive annually in two batches from the world body — which the elite clubs want a piece of.
The expectations by the top clubs are buoyed by FIFA guidelines suggesting affiliates such as the PSL are entitled to 10 percent of the US$500 000 kitty.
The Forward 2.0 plan adopted at the FIFA Council meeting in Kigali on October 26 2018 set the tone for a new four-year funding cycle between 2019 and 2022, “with a 20 percent increase in the annual entitlement for each of the 211 member associations and six confederations’’.
PSL chairperson Farai Jere, however, believes clubs have misinterpreted the FIFA guidelines, insisting the money is for ZIFA to use in the administration of the game.
“I think it is a question of wrong interpretation. That money is not for PSL . . . or any affiliate in particular. It is for ZIFA to use in the administration of the game, and they can choose to hold a tournament for all teams from PSL to the lower leagues to cover other administrative costs.
“FIFA only want to know if you have an active national league, women’s football or referees so that they check if you satisfy the criteria for the release of the funds,’’ said Jere.
Jere is also the PSL’s point man in ZIFA as he sits on the association’s board. The top clubs, however, have their own views and believe ZIFA should share at least US$50 000 with their flagship affiliate, the PSL.
Some of the club executives told The Sunday Mail Sport that releasing part of the grant to the PSL would also be in recognition of the role the elite league plays in the development of players who feed into the national teams, including the Warriors CHAN squad, which is wholly local.
CAPS United vice president Nhamo Tutisani feels parcelling the grant to the PSL would assist the top flight lure more corporate investment.
“Our league should be attractive and this should be addressed by investment, and the PSL badly needs this grant because it can improve on things like travel by clubs and bringing in occupational therapists for our players. And if the FA gives us the money, it will also complement what we are getting from Delta (PSL’s title sponsors).
“If competition increases, more corporates will come through and associate with football,’’ Tutisani said.
Chicken Inn secretary Tawengwa Hara also noted with concern that “there had been a misconception that ZIFA has already bailed out the PSL clubs through a waiver of affiliation fees’’. Hara said the FIFA Forward funds would be a welcome relief for them.
“This is welcome relief to the clubs and my club welcomes this development. What I didn’t understand is the distribution announcement by the ZIFA emergency committee about money being given to affiliates equivalent to what they paid.
“I personally don’t see PSL clubs benefiting because they are not directly affiliated to ZIFA and never received an invoice about such payment.
“We only paid and affiliated to PSL, so we risk losing out if the announcement of the distribution is anything to go by, and I think they are trying to shield us from what we are entitled to,’’ Hara said.
Highlanders chief executive Nhlanhla Dube urged PSL and ZIFA to urgently engage over the funds.
“It is prudent, if not urgent, for the PSL leaders to engage ZIFA regarding the historical and current distribution of the funds and confirm that indeed there is an allocation for the men’s top-flight competition,” he said.
“I think it is of utmost importance to allow clubs to contextualise the conversation.
“If indeed there is a legitimate claim for the clubs, it is of utmost importance to understand that clubs’ major cost centre is the playing staff and coaches, without whom football would be a mirage. So, any funds that are available for relief should be channelled towards supporting this expenditure. Clubs are going to struggle to keep players looked after for the period the game remains on lockdown, and this is worsened by the fact that traditional financial support through partnership and or sponsorship is unlikely to be available in fantastic proportions as industry is also a casualty of the vagaries of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Black Rhinos secretary Edward Mutukwa feels ZIFA have to make good of their battered corporate image by sharing the funds.
“Taking a leaf from other associations that have less successful records than us in Africa, such as Mauritania, ZIFA should simply assist our local clubs, and that would also assist them gain lost confidence from the public since the last AFCON trip of shame (in Egypt).
“This pandemic has greatly affected all football activities, more so ours have been hard hit considering the preparations that we had done with the hope that we would offset the costs once the season starts,’’ Mutukwa said.
Manica Diamonds chairperson Masimba Chihowa believes waiving affiliation fees was not sufficient cushion for the clubs.
“This is a small amount considering the costs clubs are incurring during and after the lockdown,’’ Chihowa said.
Part of the Forward fund guidelines read:
“Up to US$500 000 shall be paid in July of each year, provided that the member association fulfils the following 10 criteria:
- organises men’s competitions (championship, league or cup), meaning nationwide regular competitions played as follows:1. over a period of at least six (6) months;2. involving at least ten (10) teams; 3. with at least 90 matches played.
- organises women’s competitions (championship, league or cup), meaning nationwide regular competitions played as follows: 1. over a period of at least six (6) months; 2. involving at least ten (10) teams; 3. with at least 90 matches played.
iii. has an active men’s “A” national team having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year
- has an active women’s “A” national team having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year
- organises boys’ competitions (championships, leagues or cups) in at least two age categories (for example U-15 and U-17) as follows: 1. nationwide or regionally; 2. involving at least ten (10) youth teams in each of the age categories; 3. with at least 90 matches played in each age category; 4. played over a period of at least six (6) months.
- organises girls’ competitions (championships, leagues or cups) in at least two age categories (for example U-15 and U-17) as follows: 1. nationwide or regionally; 2. involving at least ten (10) youth teams in each of the age categories; 3. with at least 90 matches played in each age category; 4. played over a period of at least six (6) months.
vii. has active boys’ national teams in at least two age categories having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year in each of the age categories
viii. has active girls’ national teams in at least two age categories having played at least four (official or friendly) matches in the relevant year in each of the age categories
- has a functioning and regularly updated IT player registration and competition management system (which is provided free of charge by FIFA if needed)
- has an established programme for the promotion and development of refereeing, as follows: 1. an appointed full-time head of refereeing with the relevant refereeing expertise2. at least ten (10) refereeing workshops/seminars to be organised by the member association for its referees in the different categories in one year 3. also includes women referees’’.