COSAFA deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda has urged the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) executive to greatly consider putting its house in order for the positive development of the game in the country.
Nyirenda, a Malawian whose father is a Zimbabwean, said his heart bleeds to continuously read of problems at Zifa, an association that now has strained relations with Cosafa.
Last year, Cosafa was compelled to suspend Zimbabwe’s national teams from the regional body’s tournaments as punishment for pulling out of the staging agreement by withdrawing, at the last-minute, from holding the 2019 edition.
“We can’t just watch Zifa messing around and I have frankly told those in the executive to greatly consider putting their house in order. Truth be told, as Cosafa we can’t afford to have a tournament without Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe national teams have been attracting great crowds at different Cosafa tournaments.
“A very professional approach to the game of football is needed because Zifa’s pulling out of the hosting agreement by withdrawing at the last-minute, from hosting the 2019 edition was a shame. On a personal level, it really pains me to continue reading negative stories on Zifa and Zimbabwean football,” said Nyirenda who started serving Cosafa at the end of 2016 after working as Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary for 11 years.
Zimbabwe were found guilty of contract breach by Cosafa’s Disciplinary Committee following a last-minute withdrawal from playing host to the 2019 edition of the regional competition. The event was later held in South Africa and the Warriors were conditionally allowed a chance to defend their crown.
Late last month, Zifa, reportedly made the first steps in trying to mend their edgy affairs with Cosafa after they paid the US$3 000 appeal fees to challenge the suspension of the national teams from the regional body’s tournaments.
They are also appealing against the heavy fine imposed on them.
Zifa were also slapped with a US$200 000 as a condition for readmission to the Cosafa tournaments.
Zifa’s legal advisor, Chenaimoyo Gumiro, is on record saying now that the association had paid the appeal fees they were waiting to get a response on the new hearing dates.
“This judgment was delivered last year and we actually signalled our intention to appeal. Unfortunately, we were not told how much we were supposed to pay in appeal fees. We were only told the exact amount we should pay at this year’s AGM, which was held in (January), I think. But I am glad to say the US$3 000 appeal fee has since been paid. We have applied for condonation for the late filing of the appeal and the appeal itself. Cosafa have acknowledged receipt and we are now waiting for the date of the hearing,” said Gumiro.
The country’s football mother body was given two months, until August last year, to pay a fine of US$50 000 and confirm hosting the 2020 edition of the Cosafa senior men’s tournament after the huge chunk of the fine, amounting to US$150 000, was set aside.
But the original verdict came into effect after they missed the deadlines.
Government, at the time, said hosting the tournament would have been a bad deal as it needed a Government guarantee of US$2 million against projected gate takings of US$45 000.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association was supposed to have complied with the terms of the suspensive verdict by 30th June 2019, failure to which the terms of the original verdict would be applied,’’ read the letter from Cosafa.
‘’You are hereby notified that due to the fact that the terms of the suspensive verdict have not been fulfilled, the terms of the original verdict dated 25th April 2019 are now applied as follows:
“1. Zimbabwe Football Association is suspended from participating with its senior men’s national team in the 2020 edition of the Cosafa Cup.
“2. Payment of the amount of US$200 000 (Two hundred thousand United States dollars) must be paid to Cosafa by deadline, 15th August 2019.
“3. Failure to effect payment in terms of 2 above shall result in the suspension of Zimbabwe Football Association from participating in any and all Cosafa competitions until such time as payment of the fine has been met in full.’’