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Sports Commission failing the nation

Itai Dzamara

ZIMBABWEAN soccer is desperately yearning for emancipation from the chaos and mayhem that has always driven sponsors away.

l, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has a well-documented history of failure, with the latest bungling of national team trips epitomising the decay in the corridors of soccer administration.

The hypocritical scra-mble by government to pour money into the Warriors coffers after they qualified for Tunisia 2004 African Cup of Nations finals or the hijacking of the euphoric period by government was not an approval of Zifa’s way of doing things but simply a demonstration of joy over Zimbabwe’s long overdue debut appearance at the continental showcase.

The problems bedeviling local soccer are in no way new or strange. They have always been a part of the local game. They have always derailed national teams’ aspirations the same way they have consistently put off potential and existing sponsors.

As reported in this paper last week, the Premier Soccer League is in a quandary as it scrounges for sponsorship of knockout tournaments.

Indications are that the top-flight league is likely to finish the season without any major knockout tournament, thereby removing a lot of glamour from its calendar.

The withdrawal of sponsorship for the BP Cup and Madison Trophy as well as the Dairibord Charity Shield came after much embarrassment on the part of the sponsors due to the chaos that is endemic in the running of local football.

It is clear that the lawlessness allowed to proliferate in the soccer fraternity has been nourished by the Sports and Recreation Commision (SRC)’s ineffectiveness. The commission has failed the nation and must be overhauled. Education and Sports and Culture minister, Aenias Chigwedere, has equally demonstrated his lack of guts to take effective measures.

The major reason for the persistence of these problems has been the ineptitude of the SRC.

The supreme sports governing body has failed to effectively restore order and sanity in soccer in several instances. Chief among those is the Zifa leadership saga which has raged on for a long time, at times dragging the beautiful game to the courts.

The same applies to the Dynamos administrative matters which for the past four years have looked like a ticking time bomb.

Last year in December the SRC called a press conference at which its chairman Anthony Mandiwanza, sounded like a man eager to resolve the Dynamos crisis once and for all. He identified some individuals at Zifa as fuelling disharmony at Dynamos to pursue personal goals. He promised to crack down on such people.

However, the SRC has failed to deliver on its promises and the beautiful game remains the biggest casualty. What appears to be the only solution now is to reshuffle or disband the current composition of the SRC for more serious and goal-oriented sports administrators.

The current SRC leadership has amply demonstrated its lack of teeth and clout to rein in errant individuals or associations. For example, loud calls from Chigwedere for the commission to crack the whip on Zifa for bungling the Warriors trip to Mali have been in futility. The task has proved too huge for the commission. What has instead ensued is continued bickering between the SRC and Zifa. The football body has been lashing out at the SRC and trivialising Chigwedere’s concerns.

A question has to be asked about the SRC and Chigwedere’s authority.In other countries a sports minister or supreme body such as the SRC could easily use duly bestowed authority to disband the whole leadership of a rogue affiliate association.

Mandiwanza last weekreleased a press statement in which he noted the decay at Zifa. He stated Zifa’s transgressions that include: altering the constitution without proper procedure, bungling the Mali trip, operating without a properly constituted board, failing to submit audited accounts for the past three years as well as engaging in money laundering by selling cash from the gate taking of the match between Zimbabwe and Eritrea.

These allegations are just a tip of an iceberg considering the chaos that has been reigning supreme at Zifa since the days of former chairman Leo Mugabe. And in the past, the SRC has been merely giving this kind of piecemeal reaction.

The sports governing body has only been identifying the evils and threatening to take action only to wilt to the rude defiance of the Zifa leadership.

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