He who blinks first… FIFA mum on Zifa mess . . . Chiyangwa says life goes on

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ZIMBABWEAN football is heading into uncharted waters and Fifa’s silence on the contentious elections roadmap is not helping matters.

In fact the silence from Zurich is being used as a the soundtrack to serious politicking with the modus operandi at Zifa now bordering on the lines of “he who blinks first dies”.

Two distinct camps are emerging in the Zifa Assembly.

The flash point is this: the term of the current Zifa board lapses on March 30 and local football’s highest decision-making body is divided on the next step.

Should Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa and his entire board resign enmasse and leave affairs in the hands of general secretary Joseph Mamutse? Or should they hold fort until Fifa indicates the way forward?

A clique within the Zifa Assembly wants the status quo to remain after the expiry of the board’s four-year term.

On the flip side is a posse which argues that local football will be thrown into disarray if the current board continues to occupy office when its term of office has lapsed.

This group would rather have Mamutse in charge – for any unstated period – rather than have a minute longer with Chiyangwa calling the shots.

The issue of how Zifa moves on after March 30 was discussed at length at last month’s AGM in Harare but no common ground was reached.

It was then resolved that Zifa writes to Zurich, the Fifa headquarters, seeking guidance.

That was done a few days after the Assembly but Fifa are yet to get back to Zifa. Fifa say they are seized with the Zimbabwe FA’s matter.

“Fifa has received correspondence from Zifa on the latter’s situation, which we are currently studying. We have no further comment to make at this stage,” a Fifa spokesman told The Sunday Mail Sport last week.

Zifa president Phillip Chiyangwa insists life will go on – has to go on – after March 30.

“I don’t know where all the fuss is coming from,” he said. “We discussed this issue at the AGM and resolved to write to Fifa. That was done and now we await to hear from the big bosses in Switzerland.

“Until then Zifa will continue to operate with ‘Captain Fiasco’ in charge. In fact my bosses at Fifa are happy with me, they know Zifa and Cosafa have a captain who makes things happen. Recently they sent me to South Africa and I handled business there. They know I am here.”

Chiyangwa, who is also the Cosafa president, added that it was important to realise that “there are procedures to be followed when running an election”.

“It not like buying a bus or a movie ticket. We have to satisfy all the football statutes. We wrote to Fifa because we have never been in such a situation before and their word will guide how we are going to proceed from here. That word is yet to come so life goes on,” he said.

Chiyangwa’s confidence – if not cockiness – has those in the opposing camp pondering Plan B.

“We were not expecting any miracles from Fifa, really, and our suspicions have been confirmed by the time they have taken to address the Zifa issue,” said an Assembly member opposed to Chiyangwa’s faction.

“Clearly Fifa is not treating this as an emergency matter and we are left with no choice but come up with an alternative plan of action. We are studying the Zifa constitution and will be making our next and decisive move very, very soon.” – Sunday Mail