Former Bulawayo City goalkeeper Aaron Ngwenya
Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau
HOW much are the clubs and leagues really supposed to get from the US$1,8 million Fifa/Caf Covid-19 bailout packages for football?
It’s the big question now at the heart of the game, amid glaring differences, in the way the associations are parcelling out the money.
While all the FAs have received similar cash injections from Zurich and Cairo, the differences, in the amounts which are being committed to the beneficiaries, is provoking debate.
On Thursday, Zifa finally played their cards when they revealed the money they will hand out to the domestic football community from the US$1,8 million package.
The money includes U$1,5 million from Fifa and US$300 000 from Caf.
The association said they would pay in local currency, even though relief funds, as has been shown by the Government’s payments to civil servants, can be paid in foreign currency.
However, it’s the differences, in the packages, which is provoking debate across the continent and on social media.
For instance, Zifa announced that every Zimbabwean top-flight club will get about US$5 500, at the current exchange rate.
The 18 PSL clubs are set to share just under US$100 000 from the bailout package.
The other US$300 000, for the top-flight league, is set to go towards the Covid-19 baseline testing, in anticipation of the start of the 2020 season in September, medical equipment, and administration.
However, the start of the season is dependent on Government approval and, with the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the rise in the country, that looks a distant possibility.
Yesterday, news broke out that the Senegalese Football Federation had offered support to their football community in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The country’s football leaders met on Wednesday and approved around US$1 833 321 to be shared among football clubs, players and others.
They had also previously a special subsidy to their affiliates before coming out with the new package.
Each top-flight club in Senegal will get US$26 000, each second-tier club will get US$17 000, each third-tier club will get US$12 000 while each fourth-tier club will receive US$5 200.
Each top-flight club, in women football, will get US$5 200 while the second-tier league clubs will receive US$3 500 each.
“Other beneficiaries of the relief package are the regional clubs, beach football, the Sports Managers Association, the Association of Former Footballers, the FSF Employees Association, Doctors Association and others.’’
Yesterday, one of the domestic club’s representatives, said the Zifa gesture was good but the funds were inadequate.
“The gesture is good but the money advanced to the clubs is just a drop in the ocean,” said the official who chose not to be named.
“To be honest, that amount is nothing compared to the challenges the clubs are facing right now.
“It’s not even enough to cover one-month salary bill of a club with an average staff component of 50 employees.
“Here, we are talking of clubs that have not been generating income for the past seven, or so months, yet they have had fixed salary bills, rentals and other operating expenses to cater for.
“Many teams have been struggling, I tell you. Some have failed to pay their players, it becomes very difficult for these players to sustain themselves and their families.
“What Zifa are doing here could be setting up clubs against their players. If Zifa really wanted to assist with player welfare, they should have considered transferring the money directly into the players’ accounts.’’
Another club official said Zifa should simply have paid the beneficiaries in foreign currency.
“Why not report, just as it is, in United States dollars and then, when the time to pay the clubs comes, they then use the prevailing rate?
“Better still, they can encourage clubs to open foreign currency accounts, which is legal in Zimbabwe, and still dole out the money in forex,’’ he said.
However, PSL chairman, Farai Jere, said he was satisfied with the bailout efforts being made by Zifa.
Jere said Zifa had to work with what was available to them, since the money was supposed to be shared across the board, with all football affiliates benefiting from the Fifa and Caf cake.
“Depending on what we had on the table, if you put it in terms of percentages, we got 20 percent of the total money available,’’ he said.
“Remember, this money is also covering the national teams, it’s also covering all men’s football in Zimbabwe.
“That is why it was a big hustle to try and negotiate that amount.”
The football fraternity have called on authorities, and service providers, to provide a waiver for levies and their service fees, for the local game to start this year.
Former Motor Action protocol chief, Simeon Jamanda, said there were some positives coming from Zifa.
“At least, we have some positives coming from Zifa. The move to pay referees by Zifa, and the testing of Covid-19, is a relief to clubs,’’ he said.
“The SRC should also waive their levies, for now, as clubs try to recover financially.
“The same with other service providers, they should consider discount or setting aside their huge fees.
“The league sponsors must also consider advance payment of prize money to enable clubs to fulfil fixtures since most are now bankrupt.’’
Newboys Tenax chairman, Stefani Masina, whose club is still to adjust to the financial demands of the top-flight league, welcomed the Fifa bailout.
Meanwhile, the Zifa Appeals Board have upheld the application for condonation by the association for filing a late appeal against the ruling of their disciplinary committee in their long-running case against suspended vice-chairman Gift Banda.
Banda had sought to block the hearing after raising preliminary objections through his legal team.
The points however, were dismissed with costs, paving the way for the appeal to be heard.
“In pursuit of justice, the association has been given the chance to be heard. The attempt made by Zifa to appeal was a nullity. It was ‘null and void ab initio’,” read part of yesterday’s ruling.
“If an act is void, then it is in law a nullity. It is not only bad, but incurably bad. There is no need for an order of the court to set it aside.
“It is automatically null and void without more ado, though it is sometimes convenient to have the court declare it to be so.
“You cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stay there. It will collapse. Therefore, in view of the above findings, it is the Zifa Appeals Board’s ruling that this matter is not res judicata.”
Zifa lawyer, Chenaimoyo Gumiro, was relieved with the outcome last night.
“The merits of the matter are now going to be heard,” said Gumiro.