The Zimbabwe Football Association vice president Ndumiso Gumede has defended his organization’s decision not to send the under-17 team to fulfill an Africa Championship qualifier against Congo Brazzaville this week citing financial constraints.
Gumede told VOA Studio 7 that ZIFA is broke and has been relying on financial donations with the bulk coming from association president Cuthbert Dube to stay afloat.
Fans are calling for ZIFA’s leadership to step down after the board last week announced the dissolution of the national team, the Warriors, following its failure to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Zimbabwe Soccer Supporters Association told Studio 7 it is disappointed by the underperformance of administrators at ZIFA who last week announced they were interested in developing junior football, but this week miserably failed to send the under-17 team to the Africa Youth Championships.
To address funding gaps, former Premier Soccer League chief executive Chris Sambo said ZIFA should rebrand itself to attract sponsors and increase revenues.
"ZIFA managed to raise pledges under the Mzansi 90 Committee for the Warriors' last lag in Angola which means they can still attract sponsors if they spruce up their image and market themselves as a good brand," said Sambo.
Gumede said there is a looming anti-ZIFA demonstration calling for the ouster of the entire board, but he is not fazed as people are, in his words, “entitled to their own opinions on how to run football”.
"I am ready to give up my vice presidency next year as I will not seek re-election but will not bow down to sympathizers of those found guilty of the Asiagate scandal who I understand are planning to stage an anti-ZIFA campaign," said Gumede from his rural home in Inyathi, Matabeleland North Province.
Last month, the ZIFA board slapped lifetime bans on 15 players and administrators found guilty of participating in the so-called Asiagate scandal, and was heavily criticized for the lengthy time they took to conclude the matter.
Sambo added that the ZIFA administrators lost track of their core business of running football and instead concentrated their strengths on the Asiagate scandal.
Studio 7 reporter Marvellous Mhlanga Nyahuye turned to Gumede and Sambo for their perspective on the state of football in the country and anti-ZIFA sentiment.