By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
Bulawayo — FIFA have literally poured cold water on sensational claims that they were probing ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa over his 2015 ascendency to power, with the world soccer governing body yesterday exposing the fabrication by a social media blogger that the Harare businessman was being investigated for ethical conduct.
Former Harare City executive committee member Hope Chizuzu has been using social media platforms to claim that FIFA had instituted investigations into Chiyangwa’s entry into the highest football office in the land following elections in 2015 in which he thumped Trevor Carelse-Juul.
Chiyangwa has since threatened legal action against Chizuzu.
Chizuzu, who has developed a penchant to paint negative images of the local soccer mother body had even claimed that FIFA had released to him the names of the investigators they had unleashed on ZIFA.
He claimed that the FIFA ethics committee headed by Maria Claudio Rodgers from Columbia had opened investigations on the legality of Chiyangwa’s presidency.
“Ethics Committee chair, Maria Claudio Rodgers, a Gianni Infantino favourite, confirmed investigations have opened on Chiyangwa’s alleged illegality to holding office in Zimbabwe football association.
“She is being assisted by Gautier Aubert,” Chizuzu wrote on his Facebook wall on November 9.
But FIFA told Chronicle yesterday that their Ethics committee did not comment on ongoing or potential investigations, putting paid to the sensational claims which Chizuzu had made and which have riled ZIFA and Chiyangwa.
“Any information the committee would like to share will be communicated accordingly upon the committee’s indications,” FIFA said.
The Independent Ethics Committee is one of FIFA’s judicial bodies. It is primarily responsible for investigating possible infringements of the FIFA Code of Ethics. Since 2012, it has been divided into two separate chambers — the investigatory chamber and the adjudicatory chamber.
ZIFA believe that Chizuzu is part of a cartel of hawks that have tried to make football ungovernable at the association but appear to be falling flat at every turn.
The hawks had earlier yesterday gone into overdrive, also making wild claims that the Warriors were in danger of failing to fulfil their penultimate African Cup of Nations assignment against Liberia in Monrovia allegedly because the squad had been stranded without any air tickets.
ZIFA had always indicated that should they fail to secure a charter plane for the senior team, “the players would travel from their foreign bases on Wednesday and link up with the coaches and the local crew in Liberia on Thursday”.
The association also dispatched communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela to Monrovia as an advance party who would work on the logistics that are expected to make the Warriors’ arrival in Liberia comfortable.
Away from the attempts to cause alarm over the Warriors’ trip to Liberia, incumbent ZIFA board member finance Philemon Machana was buoyant that he would be officially retained on the board at the football body’s December 1 elections.
Machana, just like the pair of Chiyangwa and ZIFAS vice-president Omega Sibanda were on Tuesday honoured by 10 provincial leaders for the work they have done in transforming the association in the short stint they have been in charge of the national game.
The finance guru says they have brought financial stability at the association with stringent internal controls that have seen the association “eating only what we would have killed”.
He has been credited with successfully eradicating a culture of plunder of the game’s meagre resources by some people who would previously be allowed to do so at the expense of employees and players.
While Chiyangwa and Sibanda have been retained unopposed.
Machana will square off against five other aspiring candidates — Sugar Chagonda, Chamu Chiwanza, Barry Manandi, Stanley Chapeta and Bryton Malandule for the four available board posts.
“ZIFA has been stabilised. There is now financial discipline and internal controls have been strengthened to safe guard funds and assets of the association.
“Audited accounts are produced every year. FIFA funding restored after turning around the systems at the FA. We eat what we kill and have strived to live within our means.
“The days of free looting are long gone with focus on transparency and accountability,” said Machana.
He said he has brought some professionalism in the finance and administration of the association and heaped praises on the councillors, the presidency of the association, the government, the football administrators and technical teams, the public and football supporting family as well as the game’s corporate partners.
Machana also said players had offered support to his endeavours during the past two years.
“I have learnt a lot and the next level, if elected is to now move into more investment in grassroots, junior and women football. Infrastructure development is also going to be another area of interest. We are ready to grow the game and I am still keen to play a part.
“I am going to push that as ZIFA we also release FIFA funds to all affiliates for their developmental programs and during the December 1 annual general meeting I will push for a resolution that all those affiliates who are owing the association in terms of outstanding affiliation fees to have those debts written off to enable them to start on a clean slate.
“This will allow for them to now receive these developmental funds since they will be now clean and in good standing,” said Machana.