FIFA agree to bail out Zimbabwe football association

FIFA have agreed to bail out ZIFA by approving a package to cater for the association’s crippling legacy debt which had now ballooned to $10 million and stifled various development programmes over the past seven years.

Starting next month, the world football governing body are expected to release the funds under the FIFA Forward Programme.

Currently, auditors appointed to assist ZIFA, are busy with the verification exercise, working closely with the debtors.

This tranche of money is over and above the US$1 million FIFA grant which the association receive annually.

ZIFA have already received the full amount for this year but this is mainly for their operational costs, including development and national teams.

However, FIFA have approved two of the eight project applications, which ZIFA tendered, under the FIFA Forward Programme.

The other project which, was approved and will receive funding from Zurich, is the association’s restructuring.

This project seeks to professionalise ZIFA after auditing the current structure in relation to human resources, football development and technical issues.

The auditors, working with a mandate from FIFA, are in the process of verifying figures with organisations and people who are owed money by the association.

This is a huge development considering that the legacy debt had stretched from the time former president, Cuthbert Dube, was in charge of the association five years ago.

Yesterday, ZIFA president, Felton Kamambo, said they were in the process of reaching out to anyone who is owed by ZIFA to get in touch with the auditors.

“We had a $10 million legacy debt and we applied for a total of eight projects, so we are happy that two of them were approved and the rest are still pending,” said Kamambo.

“We appointed an auditor, in conjunction with FIFA, to verify the debt with the creditors, then we make the payments.

“We expect to do the payments once the auditor completes his work.

“We expect to finish the verification exercise in two weeks’ time and then we will ask FIFA to release funds.

“We stand guided by Supreme Court ruling of last year, so the payments will be done in the local currency.”

Last November, the Supreme Court ruled that Daisy Lodge, who had been battling to be paid their dues in foreign currency after ZIFA ran a $161 000 bill, had no case against the association which settled that debt, in full, in February this year.

ZIFA paid $195 000 in February this year, to dissolve that debt.

Officials at the country’s football controlling body, and their legal representatives — Ngarava, Moyo and Chikono Legal Practitioners — argued that at the time the payment was done, the rate of the local dollar and the United States dollar was at par.

However, the owners of Daisy Lodge challenged that settlement and insisted they wanted to be paid in foreign currency.

This sparked a legal battle which finally spilled into the Supreme Court, which ruled ZIFA had fully serviced their debt in January.

“This is a big plus for the football family. Managing football had become so difficult with legacy debts, especially ahead of big assignments,” said Kamambo.

“I am really happy that the garnishing of accounts, which had become the order of the day, will be a thing of the past.

“We ran into some problems trying to divert funds in other accounts so that we will carry on with football, but now we would be able to conduct our business in a transparent manner.

“We are calling upon anyone who is owed by ZIFA, from all these years, to come to come forward and meet the auditors for verification.

“We would be running some adverts in the mainstream media to bring awareness to all the creditors.

“After this exercise we don’t want anyone to come and claim that they are still owed,” he said. Before this approval, ZIFA had already paid creditors such as Daisy Lodge in full. Under the leadership of Gianni Infantino, FIFA have increased investment into the game and are helping underprivileged associations with funding.

“We are increasing our financial support for the six confederations so that they can do more to develop football in their regions.

“We aim to improve the impact, and the efficiency of our investment in development, achieving better and more sustainable results so that football can thrive everywhere.

“We are bringing together all of our football project support into one tailor-made contract of agreed objectives and a development plan to meet the specific needs and challenges of each association”.

Source – chronicle