ZIFA’s failure to change will cost Zim dearly

Zimbabwean soccer will, at least for the next few years, not improve. That was the general declaration by most soccer fans when Cuthbert Dube retained his post as Zifa President at the weekend.

Dube has done very little for the country’s football to warrant another term as local head of the beautiful game, yet the electorate in the football mother body still gave him a vote of confidence – handing him a resounding victory of 44 votes against returnee Trevor Carelse-Juul’s 14 in the subsequent run-off.

Under Dube, Zimbabwean football has been going nowhere. Due to his failure to win over the corporate world and get a regular sponsor for the association, Zifa is struggling to shake-off its debt, said to be more than $5 million and growing.

Dube, who has been forced to use his own resources to cover-up for his lack of negotiating power with potential sponsors, has also presided over an era where at least one junior soccer team has been barred from international competitions, after Zifa failed to fund one of their away trips, while Highlanders have had to serve a three-season ban from Caf club competitions after bungling by Dube’s administration. It was also under the current Zifa boss that the Warriors have remained without a substantive coach for a greater part of the last five years, where at least five coaches have been in charge and helped take the once-feared team to the doldrums.

It was under Dube that the senior national team had learnt the art of losing home games to teams like Egypt and Guinea and drawing matches with token opposition.

It was because of Dube’s macho-approach to football administration that the Warriors were incapacitated from making qualification to the 2013 African Nations Cup in neighbouring South Africa, after most of the country’s best players were put on ban for the Asiagate, action that has not been supported by other bodies like Cosafa and the broader Caf.

While Dube should be shown some gratitude for his use of personal resources to support the national team, he should also be reminded that those have not been enough, as evident by failure to send the juniour teams to continental tournaments and failure to pay national team players and the technical team in time.

He also needs to be reminded that a true administrator is one who manages to win corporate support that leads to long-term contracts with sponsors to each of the national teams. Us of one’s personal resources is not sustainable because once the coffers dry up, or at a change of heart, the sponsorship also ends.

Regional neighbours like South Africa have shown how an association that knows its game can remain in the game. All of South Africa’s football teams, including women’s teams, have sponsors that sign and keep renewing multi-million rand contracts that can be for as long as five seasons.

At a time when most companies are in distress and not ready to pour money into the game, it would be even more difficult for a scandal-prone administrator like Dube to win them over.

It is common knowledge that Dube’s involvement in the “Salarygate” has left him with egg on his face and reduced his “Asiagate” witch-hunt to nothing more than a grandstanding meant to target those that would have stood in his way to a second term he has just won.

Time will tell how Dube pulls a Houdini act out of the current situation, but the biggest guess now is that Zimbabwean soccer is headed for even tougher and more embarrassing times.

Post published in: Football

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