By Eddie Chikamhi
ZIFA have come down hard on player agents in Zimbabwe by claiming they are all in breach of the FIFA statutes with the Association insisting none of them is registered to represent players in the country.
The Association’s communications and competitions manager, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday said no one had so far applied for a licence to practice in Zimbabwe despite the move to slash their annual fees by half.
Gwesela reckoned that players and clubs were in danger of being short-changed by individuals who are “masquerading” as intermediaries and facilitating movements of players at home and abroad.
“The Association has noted with dismay that some individuals are already practicing as intermediaries without requisite licences.
“We are disturbed that last week one individual was quoted in the newspapers masquerading as an intermediary. We feel this is fraudulent,” said Gwesela.
The annual fees for individuals were slashed from $2 000 to $1 000 recently following an outcry from the intermediaries. Companies seeking to represent players or clubs are now expected to part with $2 000. ZIFA also removed the $15 000 bank balance guarantees for all existing intermediaries with the candidates now only expected to produce a police clearance and a valid insurance cover.
However, the bank balance guarantees are still required for new applications.
“We had a meeting with representatives of the player intermediaries and they agreed to slash fees to $1 000 and we also waived the bank balance requirement.
“We then told them to register until the end of March, but up to now no one has come forward.
“So what it means is we don’t have an intermediary in Zimbabwe and we are actually shocked and dismayed to see people posing as intermediaries and even going to the extent of giving interviews to the press about player movements.
“We would like such characters to desist from masquerading as intermediaries and we would want to urge clubs, players and the Premier Soccer League not to entertain anyone claiming to be an intermediary until they get verification from the association.
“FIFA are very clear on this subject that people have to be licensed by the football association to be recognised as intermediaries and anyone who operates without this is in breach of the football statutes and we cannot allow that.
“They have to desist from handling player transfers or they get licensed immediately, failure of which will force the association to invoke football statues on the offending parties,” said Gwesela.
ZIFA last year had five accredited intermediaries among them Gibson Mahachi, Cousin Zilala, George Deda, Ezra Tshisa Sibanda and Mlindeli Tshuma. One of the intermediaries Deda yesterday told The Herald that they have faced liquidity challenges under the current economic climate.
Deda said they did not have any issues with ZIFA, but argued that intermediaries have received raw deals especially from local clubs that allegedly play hide-and-seek with the signing-on fees of the players.
“Personally I think that what ZIFA have done should be applauded. I think the Philip Chiyangwa-led executive has done well to recognise that the requirements were exorbitant and we are behind this vision.
“For a long time the levies had been exorbitant and it was almost impossible to operate in Zimbabwe. We are hopeful that this vision will go a long way to make our operations as smooth as they are in other African countries.
“While I do not dispute the fact that the fees were slashed, ZIFA also have to look at the environment in which we are operating where more than 90 percent of the clubs are not able to pay their new players signing-on fees.
“Imagine clubs themselves are failing to pay their own affiliation fees on time.
“What more the signing-on fees? It’s a big cause for concern for the intermediaries because that is where they get their share.
“The situation is dire. If you are to look at statistics, not more than three clubs have settled their dues with players.
“That is why when you go to the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe offices there are files and files of players claiming signing-on fees.
“So, in a way, it complicates the way we are supposed to work and we are pleading with ZIFA if they can stagger the payment of the annual fees.
“We are also advocating for a situation where an intermediaries’ organisation becomes a member of ZIFA and pay a levy as a body and not as individuals,” said Deda.
He said he remained fully supportive of what the Chiyangwa-led ZIFA board were doing.