Zimbabwe’s women boycott football qualifier against Zambia over unpaid fees

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HARARE – The troubles in women’s football in Zimbabwe continued as the national team refused to play the second leg of their second-round Olympic qualifier against Zambia in Harare on Sunday.

By Steve Vickers & Yvonne Mangunda

The players refused to fulfil the fixture as they are owed allowances from last month’s Cosafa Cup in South Africa.

Four clubs withdrew their players from camp late on Saturday night, and the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) tried to field a club side in place of the national team, but the plan failed.

Zimbabwe lost the first leg 5-0 after travelling to Lusaka by road without training for the match, and after that defeat Mighty Warriors coach Sithethelelwe Sibanda said “our country is our best enemy in terms of not affording the team time to train.”

Harare Stadium
A small group of visiting Zambia fans at a deserted National Sports Stadium in Harare where the Olympic qualifier was abandoned after Zimbabwe’s women’s team refused to play.

Zambia travelled for Sunday’s game with a small group of fans and warmed up at an empty National Sports Stadium before the match was officially called off 30 minutes before kick-off.

“It’s very disheartening as Zimbabwe are our icons, we believed we can learn a lot from Zimbabwe,” said Zambia’s head of delegation Rix Mweemba.

Zifa blames the players for breach of contract, and asked Fifa for a postponement of the match to Monday morning, but Zambia say that they will be travelling back home then.

“We agreed with the clubs that we would pay the players $150 each for the two games, but unfortunately this agreement has been breached,” said Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela.

Zimbabwe’s women qualified for the 2016 Olympics, but have often been given inferior treatment to the men’s team. – BBC