Zimbabwe footballers boycott Afcon send off

The men’s national team boycotted the event, which was to be attended by Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Minister of Sports and Recreation, Makhosini Hlongwane.

The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) apologised to the nation on Saturday, after a dispute between it and the national football team hampered a scheduled send-off ceremony at the Rainbow Towers Hotel on Friday.

The men’s national team boycotted the event, which was to be attended by Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Minister of Sports and Recreation, Makhosini Hlongwane.

In additional the Zimbabwe national team failed to honour a fixture against Cameroon, in the build-up to the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off next week.

Central to the dispute is the small matter of allowances and bonuses for players.

Acting Chief Executive Officer of ZIFA Joseph Mamutse said: “The Zimbabwe Football Association apologises to all football stakeholders in Zimbabwe and particularly to the Acting President the Minister of Sports and Recreation.”

In an attempt to explain the impasse, Mamutse said: “The Warriors qualified for the AFCON Finals to be held in Gabon starting on the January 14, 2017. The ZIFA Executive Committee acquired sponsorship for the tournament from NetOne and the Government of Zimbabwe to the tune of US$1 250 000 after several months of fundraising efforts to ensure that the trip is successful.”

He said the issues that needed to be resolved included the following:

Camping Accommodation.

The ZIFA Executive Committee upgraded the ZIFA village to manage the escalating accommodation costs for all national teams; however, the players refused to camp at this site citing what they termed ‘deplorable’ living conditions despite the acquisition of new furniture and a facelift of the facility. The reason behind ZIFA’s choice of this camping site was to ensure that most of the funds raised would go towards players’ welfare instead of settling astronomical accommodation bills. ZIFA believes that the state of the village is better than the lodgings which the team used during the qualification stages of the tournament. The association is open to allow stakeholders to take a tour of the village to verify this assertion. However, to allow for the preparation to continue and to preserve the image of our sponsors, ZIFA had to compromise to allow the team to check into Rainbow Towers hotel thus further depleting the little resources at hand.

Allowances

ZIFA, before the $1,000,000 injection, submitted an initial proposal to the team for allowances and bonuses totaling US$ 1 617 024. 99, which was countered by the players with their proposal totaling $2 933 150.ZIFA further revised the proposal after acquiring the US$1 000 000 injection from the Government by passing the entire $1,000,000 to the Team giving a final figure of US$ 2 645 525 a figure which was now very close to the players’ initial demand of US$2 933 150. Again, the players changed goal posts and submitted another counter proposal of US$ 5 737 250.

The second proposal from ZIFA would result in each player getting around $67,000 for a successful AFCON campaign with the Group stages earning each player an appearance fee of US$ 1 000 per match, $2000 winning bonus per match and US$6 000 qualification bonus for proceeding to the next stage. Furthermore, each player would get US$ 50 local daily allowance and $100 foreign daily allowance.
On the contrary the players demands are as follows;

Local Daily Allowances – US$ 150
Foreign Daily Allowances – US$ 500
Appearance Fees Group Stage – US$ 5 000
Winning Bonuses Group Stages – US$ 6 000
Qualification Bonus – US$ 475 000

“The above figures if implemented would require a total of US$2 057 750 for the first 3 matches in the Group Stages, a situation which cannot be sustained by the current cash flows,” said Mamutse.

Mamutse said the following remedial action would be taken in the interim, for the sake of the national team at Afcon.

“ZIFA remains committed to ensuring that the AFCON tournament is successful and football’s reputation is restored.”

“A full investigation is underway, and should any element of sabotage be detected; action will be taken to ensure that those involved will face the full wrath of the association. ZIFA will further take action to ensure that Zimbabwe is indeed represented at the AFCON finals. ZIFA will take advantage of the Congress Meeting set for 7 January to discuss this matter and seek lasting solutions to avoid recurrence.

“Once again the ZIFA Executive Committee is deeply sorry for this impasse and would like to see football developing and players showcasing their talents at the highest level and being ambassadors of Zimbabwe in this regard,” added Mamutse.

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