Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE fresh explosion of ZIFA boardroom wars could lift a lid over how FIFA and the Councillors could have endorsed audited financial statements, from the association, which might have been manipulated.
The world football governing body insist on its members presenting audited financial statements, for them to qualify for annual grants which FIFA dish out, which have also become the lifeblood for many associations.
FIFA auditors also look into how their funds are used and their reports determine whether organisations, like ZIFA, qualify to be handed a fresh round of financial support.
The Zurich-based organisation lifted the ZIFA suspension, enabling them to receive funding in 2016. Two years later, FIFA increased the annual grants.
“On 13 June 2018, the FIFA Congress decided to increase the investment in FIFA Forward even further for the next cycle, 2019-2022, with a 20% increase in the annual entitlement for each of the 211 member associations and the six confederations,’’ FIFA said in a statement.
“The most prominent Forward 2.0 amendments for the 2019-2022 cycle are as follows:
A Financial entitlements
1) An investment of US$6,000,000 per member association for the four-year cycle to support operational needs and development projects whilst an additional US$1,000,000 is allocated to those member associations with an annual revenue of USD 4 million or less in order to support their travel and equipment needs.
a) Up to US$1, 000,000 per year for operational/running costs:
i) US$500,000 released in January each year for day-to-day activities, administration and running costs.
ii) Up to US$500,000 paid in July each year, provided that the member association fulfils up to ten specific activities during the year (US$50,000 per activity). These activities include:
(1) organising men’s, women’s and youth competitions (two age groups for both girls and boys) — each competition should involve at least ten clubs for at least 90 matches and for at least six months each year;
(2) having active men’s, women’s and youth national teams — each one participating in at least four matches per year;
(3) having a functioning and regularly updated IT player registration and competition management system (provided free of charge by FIFA if needed); and
(4) having men’s and women’s refereeing programmes.
b) US$2,000,000 over the period of the whole 2019-2022 cycle for projects tailored according to the member association’s approved contract of agreed objectives, and in particular relating to football infrastructure (e.g. pitches, technical centres, training grounds, stadiums and headquarters)
i) Projects may include other development areas provided that the member association has at least one stadium/pitch allowing international matches to be played, suitable association headquarters, and a functioning technical centre.
c) Up to US$200,000 per year for travel and accommodation, and up to US$200,000 per four-year cycle for football equipment for those member associations needing the most assistance:
i) A member association is identified as needing the most assistance provided that its annual revenue does not exceed US$4 million (reflected in the annual statutory audit report of the previous year and submitted to FIFA by 30 June each year).’’
ZIFA have been sending their audited financial statements to FIFA since 2016 after having fallen foul of the Zurich-based organisation between 2010 and 2015 for failing to audit their financials.
The association are expecting a US$500 000 injection from FIFA next month. However, questions are now being asked as to how ZIFA councillors could have endorsed the audited financial statements, which were then passed to FIFA, if — as reports have emerged — their former president Philip Chiyangwa was allegedly involved in some shady transactions?
Did the ZIFA councillors, and fellow executive committee members, turn a blind eye to the alleged malpractice or did they collectively engage in a sophisticated process to dupe their supervisory arms like the Councillors, the Sports Commission and FIFA?
Reports in recent days have claimed the association could have lost money, running into thousands of dollars via underhand dealings, in which Chiyangwa allegedly put up systems that ended up personally benefiting companies under his wing.
The Harare businessman is accused of allegedly used a firm, in which he has a substantial interest, in the renovation of the ZIFA Village.
Questions have now arisen as to how, if all this is true, these matters kept away from the Councillors, whose endorsement of the audited financial statements was necessary for them to be passed to the Sports Commission and FIFA for the unlocking of potential funding?
Or, did the ZIFA Assembly simply ignore such controversial transactions?
“Honestly some of us were not aware of all these issues yet we are members of ZIFA,’’ a ZIFA Councillor, who requested anonymity, told The Herald yesterday.
“It’s unfortunate the communication hasn’t reached us. But, it’s a tricky matter. If a crime is alleged to have been committed, then proper investigations should be instituted and every cent should be accounted for.
“If it is proved beyond, reasonable any doubt that he took ZIFA funds, then Chiyangwa has to return the money.’’
Chiyangwa has maintained be actually poured millions of his own money into the running of ZIFA and has dismissed this as part of attempts to tarnish his name in what has been a fresh explosion of boardroom battles at the association. Another ZIFA councillor, who also opted not to be identified for fear of victimisation, said the latest reports were disturbing.
“Some of us we have never been anywhere near the ZIFA money. Our job is to develop the game and we only get to see those figures when they are presented at the AGM and at Congress,’’ he said.
“I think we adopted the last financial statements, if I am not mistaken, and we didn’t here of any issues.’’
Football administrator, Eddie Chivero, said the domestic game had slid back to the days when it was all about boardroom fights.
“The allegations, the leaks, whatever you call them are being made by people who worked together on the previous board,’’ said Chivero.
“I think it has become an unfortunate culture in our football that people should always be fighting and I tell you it doesn’t take us anywhere.
“How were the financial statements approved by the Congress, and then presented to FIFA without any issues raised, if there were all these anomalies which the Councillors should have raised and then people asked to explain point by point?”