Zifa risks being struck off Fifa Foward Funds recipients register

Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter

ZIFA’S decision to pay out the Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League and its four regional Division One men’s leagues the Covid-19 relief fund using money from the Fifa Forward Funds purse might result in Zimbabwe failing to access the fund in future.

Zifa might also be ordered to return the Fifa Forward Funds it has received.

Last week the Zifa executive committee member responsible for finance Philemon Machana told our sister publication Sunday News that the two affiliates were paid using the Fifa Forward Funds and a grant from Caf.

He said the money would be replaced when they receive the Fifa Covid-19 bailout, which has strict procedures that member associations have to adhere to before accessing the money.

In an email to Chronicle Sport, Fifa stated that both the Covid-19 relief fund and Forward Funds programme are governed by clear regulations.

“Both regulations contain clear obligations about the correct use of funds and good governance principles. Furthermore, the regulations state that the use of funds is subject to significant audit and control mechanisms,” said Fifa.

Article 17 subsection 2 states that requirements for transparency and accountability of the Fifa Forward Funds development programme regulations will be deemed violated if it is so decided by the competent bodies, but more crucially if there has been a significant violation of article 8 paragraph X which categorically states that member associations must use the Forward Funds exclusively for the purposes allocated.

“In such circumstances (where there has been a violation of the regulations), the audit and compliance committee must take all of the appropriate measures to protect the funds allocated by Fifa under Forward 2.0. In particular the audit and compliance committee may;

  1. a) restrict the release of payments to member association.
  2. b) order the suspension of all new payments to the member association concerned until further notice.
  3. c) order the Fifa general secretariat or a third party mandated by the Fifa general secretariat to inspect and audit the member association concerned at any time. The member association shall provide full access to accounts, any kind of contracts and all other significant documents such as meeting minutes. Any such audit shall be conducted at Fifa’s expense.
  4. d) order the member association concerned to repay the received amounts to Fifa.”

Under Article Eight, paragraph X, Fifa clearly states that member associations and confederations must use the Forward Funds exclusively for the purposes allocated and in the event of any major change concerning a project, a request must be made and approved by the development committee.

If a member association wishes all or part of the amount paid to cover its operational costs, it may be used to fund specific projects, which include football infrastructure such as pitches, lighting systems, technical centres, training grounds, association headquarters, among other infrastructural needs.

Other projects can only be allowed if the member association has at least one standard stadium that can host international matches.

Members get US$1million per year and US$2million over a four-year cycle for specific projects under the Fifa Foward Fund.

“Regarding the operational costs, US$500 000 shall be paid in January of each year to cover the member association’s ongoing operational costs, including costs for governance structure and administration, the national teams, domestic competitions, permanent administrative and technical staff, financial management (audit), website and other communication platforms, training for key football stakeholders. Up to US$500 000 shall be paid in July of each year, provided that the member association organises men’s competitions (championship, league or cup) meaning nationwide regular competitions played over a period of at least six months involving at least 10 teams with at least 90 matches played. The member association must also organise women’s competitions,” reads part of the Forward Funds’ use.

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