FIFA EXPELS ZIM OVER DEBT

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Zifa president Cuthbert Dube

ZIMBABWE were yesterday expelled from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia, after failing to settle a debt owed to former coach, Brazilian Valinhos.

WELLINGTON TONI
SPORTS EDITOR

The debt is believed to be $67 000. The ban came on the day the 2018 qualifiers started when Bhutan, ranked 209 out of 209 in the world, won their first-ever World Cup qualifier yesterday, beating Sri Lanka 1-0.

Zifa last night appealed to Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke over the judgment.

“We have already appealed to the Fifa secretary-general as he had asked us to favour his office with our state of indebtedness by March 16, which is Monday.

We will also engage the regional office (Southern and East Development officer Ashford Mamelodi), but we will stand guided by the board.

“It is sad that Zimbabwe has been expelled against the background of severe financial challenges,” chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze said.

Mashingaidze was due to meet Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa last night on the issue while Zifa president Cuthbert Dube (pictured) was convening an emergency committee meeting to deal with the latest developments.

In the letter to Zifa dated March 10 2015 and signed by José Rodríguez, the deputy secretary to the disciplinary committee said Valinhos had requested for the immediate expulsion of Zifa from the 2018 World Cup.

“The coach José Claudinei Georgini requests for the immediate expulsion of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup,” Rodríguez’s letter reads.

“The coach José Claudinei Georgini requests for the immediate expulsion of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup,”
“The coach José Claudinei Georgini requests for the immediate expulsion of the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup.”

“In this regard we draw your attention to point III.4 of the decision 120841PST ZIM ZH rendered by the Fifa disciplinary committee, on January 24 2014 whereby it was established:

If the payment is not made by this deadline (60 days after notification of the decision ie 7 April 2014), the creditor may demand in writing from the secretariat to the Fifa disciplinary committee the expulsion of the Zimbabwe Football Association from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup.

Once the creditor has filed this request, the expulsion will be ordered automatically without a further formal decision having to be taken by the Fifa disciplinary committee.”

“Therefore, in view of the request received, in line with point II.4 of the decision of the Fifa disciplinary committee and bearing in mind the fact that no payment has been apparently made within the deadline granted, by means of the foregoing, the Zimbabwe Football Association is expelled from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia.

“Consequently, the Zimbabwe Football Association will also not be entitled to participate in the preliminary draw of the competition.”

Zifa, apparently aware of the looming sanctions, had committed itself to start servicing Valinhos’ debt by January 31 this year.

“We are currently cash-strapped and our cash inflows commence at the end of January 2015 and hence our request through your esteemed office for an extension.

Should we be expelled from Fifa competitions, our situation would even be more dire as we would not be able to service our debts, let alone function as an organisation.

“We plead with your client to grant us an extension in the interests of football,” Mashingaidze wrote on October 31 2014 to Valinhos’ lawyer Victor Eleuteiro, who is based in Rio de Janeiro.

On December 1 2014, Mashingaidze, in a letter copied to Dube and Rodriguez, pleaded with Valcke not to exclude Zimbabwe from the 2018 World Cup.

In a statement yesterday, world football governing body Fifa said: “The Fifa disciplinary committee today (yesterday), March 12 2015, notified the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) that it was expelled from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia.

“The expulsion comes as a result of the non-payment of an outstanding debt by Zifa to the coach José Claudinei Georgini following a decision passed on 15 August 2012 by the single judge of Fifa’s Players’ Status Committee.

“As the single judge’s decision was final and binding and Zifa did not settle its debt, disciplinary proceedings for failure to respect a decision (in application of article 64 of the Fifa disciplinary code) were opened against Zifa upon the request of the coach.

“The Fifa disciplinary committee passed a first decision in April 2013, by means of which in particular, and in addition to receiving a fine, Zifa was granted a 60-day period to settle half of its debt to the coach and a 120-day period to settle the remainder of the debt.

“Zifa was warned that, if they did not pay within the granted periods, the case would – upon the express written request of the creditor – be resubmitted to the Fifa disciplinary committee for the possible imposition of harsher sanctions, which could lead to expulsion from a Fifa competition. Zifa did not appeal the decision.

“In view of the fact that Zifa did not settle its debt to the coach, and following the request of the coach, the case was presented again before the Fifa disciplinary committee, which rendered a second decision.

In its decision, the Fifa disciplinary committee granted Zifa a final period of grace of 60 days to settle the debt with Mr Georgini.

“Additionally, Zifa was warned that, if the debt was not settled within the granted period (and upon the presentation of a formal claim by the creditor), then, in addition to the imposition of a fine, they would be expelled from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia.

“Zifa was informed that the expulsion would be ordered automatically without any further decision needed from the Fifa disciplinary committee and, once more, Zifa did not appeal the decision.

“Given Zifa’s failure to make any payment within the granted periods and the request presented by the creditor, the Fifa disciplinary committee – in line with its second decision – ordered the expulsion of Zifa from the preliminary competition of the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia.”

Valinhos was brought in during the Wellington Nyatanga era, which had Henrietta Rushwaya as chief executive officer in 2008. Nyatanga was deputised by former AmaZulu secretary Tendai Madzorera. Tourism Walter Mzembi minister witnessed Valinhos signing the contract although his salary was never made public.

Valinhos was unveiled at a ceremony in the capital Harare by late Zifa patron and then vice-president Joseph Msika before signing his contract, who handed him a Legea gold jersey.

The coach signed a one-year deal only receiving his salary for the first six months of his stay which was paid by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.

The rest of the bill was supposed to be picked up by Zifa, but the coach was fired after a dismal 2010 Afcon and World Cup campaign without receiving the balance of his salary.

This means that Fifa, which was due to give Zifa $300 000 for the World Cup qualifiers, would now use that money to pay Valinhos if Zifa loses the appeal.