Petros Kausiyo Harare Bureau
THE good times are really rolling for Zifa and the country’s football family under the leadership of Philip Chiyangwa with the flamboyant businessman last night unveiling a multi-million dollar deal for the association.
In yet another game-changing move for the country’s flagship sport, Zifa president Chiyangwa rolled out the deal worth between $40 million and $100 million that will see Zimbabwe hosting the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International football tournament between June and July this year.
The tournament will be held for eight years.
The staggering deal will involve an equal number of national teams from Africa and their Asian counterparts and has rich pickings for Zifa as the host association.
It is a culmination of Chiyangwa’s working visit to Dubai last week where he also took the opportunity to meet aspiring Fifa presidential candidate Prince Ali of Jordan to exchange some notes.
Last night a beaming Chiyangwa and his partner in the mega deal — chief executive of Total Sports Marketing of United Arab Emirates Moinul Chowdury — unpacked the details of the agreement which will also benefit senior national teams from Asia and the African continent.
TSM are also sponsors of Zimbabwe cricket.
More importantly for Zifa the association will rake in nearly $3 million annually from staging the competition.
“Zimbabwe will be the base for the tournament that will be known as the Robert Gabriel Mugabe Afro-Asia tournament.
“It has the seal of approval of the President (Robert Mugabe) and Zifa are the agents. We will receive revenue from the games.
“The agreement is in two parts. If it’s an eight-team tournament (four from Africa and as many teams from Asia) it will be $40 million.
“If it’s to attract 16 teams it will be between $80m and $100 million and the agreement is effective from 9 February 2016 to 9 February 2023. Total Sports Marketing will ensure that they contract the various teams that will play.
“We travelled to Dubai last week for the negotiations and today is the signing ceremony,’’ Chiyangwa said.
Crucially for Zifa, Chiyangwa said the tournament had since received the approvals of word soccer governing body Fifa and the continental mother body the Confederation of African Football.
“Before signing this agreement we first sought the approval from both Fifa and Caf and I’m happy to say that we’ve been granted that approval and Caf cleared us to hold the competition between June and July.
“I’m now running around to ensure the tournament is played around that time when it would off-season for most of the professional leagues in Europe which end in May,’’ Chiyangwa said.
Chowdury who is no stranger to Zimbabwean sport, having inked a television rights deal with Zimbabwe Cricket, said he was optimistic of staging a successful tournament in his involvement with football.
“When I started my business with Zimbabwe in 2009 I was afraid because of the propaganda against the country but I’ve found the people here to be very friendly and a secure place to do business. This deal gives TSM the TV rights to the matches.
“We’ll do our best to deliver the best possible tournament for Zifa and the President (Robert Mugabe),’’ Chowdury said.
The Total Sports Marketing chief executive also paid special tribute to President Mugabe for “agreeing to have his name associated with this tournament along with Zifa’’.
Chiyangwa said he was confident that Chowdury would also help turn around the financial fortunes of Zifa in the same way that his company has assisted ZC.
Total Sports Marketing have a deal with ZC spanning nine years and just like their new marriage with Zifa it will end in 2023.
Both Chiyangwa and Chowdury, who were flanked by their respective legal advisers — Harare lawyers Itayi Ndudzo and Harrison Nkomo — also revealed that should eight teams take part in the tournament, it would be worth $5 million a year with Zifa pocketing about half of that amount.
Should the tournament attract the 16 teams, it would be worth between $8m and $10 million a year.
As part of fulfilment of his long-term objective which was also outlined in his campaign manifesto last year, Chiyangwa said Zifa would set aside $500,000 from the revenue they will generate from the deal to set up their national academy.
Chiyangwa has made no secret of his wish to have junior development made a priority not only by Zifa but also among the Premiership clubs whom he wants compelled to set up academies and ensure there is no dearth of football talent in the country.
“Zifa will be taking nearly half of that amount and we will set aside $500,000 annually for the academy that we’re setting up in those eight years and we look forward to have developed a competitive team in those eight years,’’ Chiyangwa said.
Both Zifa and Total Sports Marketing will sign a Memorandum of Agreement with each of the countries that would have agreed to take part in the tournament.
Chiyangwa and Chowdury also remained optimistic that the timing of the tournament would give an opportunity to the competition to attract top players for the participating nations.
“The whole idea of having it when it’s off-season in the professional leagues is to ensure that the national teams can be able to call on their foreign-based payers who would be on a break. We’ve also taken into cognisance the various Fifa and Caf competitions that will be taking place and both bodies have cleared us,’’ Chiyangwa said.
But in the week that he also presided over the signing of a contract by Warriors coach Callisto Pasuwa, secured sponsorship for the Mighty Warriors’ Olympic Games preparations from Zifa partner Wicknell Chivayo and oversaw the delivery of the national coach’s car, there is no doubt that the good times are rolling in Zimbabwean soccer during the Chiyangwa era.