Phillip Chiyangwa has come out all guns blazing saying he remains the bona-fide leader of the domestic football governing body and those who are battling to topple him are wasting their time and will face the wrath of the game’s sanctions.
The Harare property mogul, who is in France where he is watching the UEFA Euro 2016, said that a cartel of “disgraced football leaders” were feasting on the technicalities related to their intention to dissolve ZIFA, and replace it with the National Football Association of Zimbabwe, to “cause confusion in football administration in Zimbabwe”.
Sport and Recreation Minister Makhosini Hlongwane is also in France for the UEFA Euro 2016 finals with his ministry claiming in a statement he “is in Paris, France, on official duty for EURO 2016. His presence is vital to football administration as well as game play.”
Chiyangwa said while NAFAZ’s creation was yet to be finalised, the technical issues that were being attended to did not mean that a leadership vacuum had been created in Zimbabwe football whose systems were still operational and recognised by COSAFA, the Confederation of African Football and FIFA.
National football leaders, said Chiyangwa, were elected and not self-appointed and Zimbabwe did not operate in isolation to what guides such procedures, as prescribed by FIFA, and the fact that Government had said ZIFA remained operational, until a time when the creation of NAFAZ had been regularised, did not create a leadership vacuum in domestic football.
A statement released from ZIFA late last night supported that point.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to categorically declare that Dr Philip Chiyangwa is the only elected ZIFA president,” the statement said.
“We understand one Francis Zimunya and his group has illegally occupied ZIFA offices and must immediately vacate association property forthwith and failure to do so will lead to prosecution.
“The public, especially creditors, must be careful and avoid dealing with delusional sycophants who are aiming to fleece their hard-earned financial resources.
“ZIFA employees are also warned to desist from engaging in criminal activities by unauthorised use of association property.”
Chiyangwa said those who had fought, and lost, in the elections which ushered his leadership into office, or saw the candidates they were backing losing, were trying to feast on the technicalities related to ZIFA and NAFAZ and spreading a gospel that domestic football now had a leadership vacuum.
There is no leadership vacuum in Zimbabwe because there is an organisation that is in place, which has duly elected leaders, who are recognised by COSAFA, CAF and FIFA and those who are trying to cause confusion, simply because they are power-hungry and believe this is the only way they can come into office, must be warned that we are going to deal with them decisively,” he said.
“I am the president of ZIFA, the only one who was elected into that position, and I am the one who is recognised by our superiors like COSAFA, CAF and FIFA and that is why you can see that even when all these people are trying to create confusion, I am getting correspondence from these organisations,” said Chiyangwa.
“The Government has said there are some technical issues that need to be sorted out with the dissolution of ZIFA and that doesn’t mean that, all of a sudden, we have a leadership vacuum because it doesn’t work that way in football.
“The Assembly is still there, the leadership they elected is still there, and anyone who is trying to think that he can short-circuit his way into that leadership, because they are either unelectable or are a disgraced lot who have long been rejected in our football, are wasting their time.
“What I can tell them is that there will be sanctions against them and this isn’t just a threat but we are going to make sure that we deal with them decisively.
“Some of them are unrepentant, they have a record even at FIFA of being rebellious because they have been fighting every football leadership that we have, whenever they are not part of it, for decades, and at one stage they were banned by FIFA but they have not learnt their lessons.”
Chiyangwa said it was ironic that the pressure from those who want to topple him has come after the Warriors qualified for the 2017 Nations Cup finals and they believe that there will be a lot of rich pickings, in terms of financial benefits, from that success.
“When we were in the trenches, looking for hundreds of thousands of dollars for our boys to fulfil these qualifiers, these people were in hiding,” said Chiyangwa.
“When we were looking for someone to sponsor our national team coach, Callisto Pasuwa, these people were in hiding but, because we have now qualified, they have resurfaced because they believe there is a lot of money that will come into our coffers.
“The Mighty Warriors are in camp right now but you don’t hear them talk about trying to help with the costs of their preparations and all that you hear from them is that we have taken control, taken control of what when you can’t be elected even by a boozers’ league?
“When our next generation of football stars were facing banishment from the 2022 World Cup because ZIFA had not paid Tom Saintfiet, these people were in hiding and now that we have sorted that out by getting a sponsor who cleared that debt, they come out of hiding.
“They cannot bully us, they failed to bully Cuthbert Dube and they won’t bully me, and I can tell them that they will meet their fate very soon.