THE crisis engulfing Zimbabwean football has been brewing for quite some time hence the earth shattering news yesterday that the country’s senior national team has been barred from the next World Cup came as no surprise.
According to reports, Zimbabwe was expelled from the 2018 World Cup qualifiers for failing to pay former Warriors coach José Claudinei Georgini (Valinhos) of Brazil.
Valinhos coached Zimbabwe for just 11 months in 2008 and failed to make an impact.
Football world governing body, Fifa, said the beleaguered Zimbabwe Football Associaton (Zifa) had failed to pay money owed to the coach despite an order to do so in 2012.
The Warriors have not qualified for the World Cup and this time they have been eliminated without kicking a ball.
Zifa is in trouble financially, with its debts estimated at over $4 million.
The association has had its property attached by former employees and other service providers.
Zifa’s problems could be attributed to the poor economic situation in the country that has made it impossible for corporates to sponsor football the way they used to.
Poor administration at the association has been blamed for the sorry state of the local game.
However, this is not the time to point fingers as the Fifa ban cannot be reversed. Zimbabwe would have to do with continental and regional competitions such as the African Nations Cup and the African Nations Championships reserved for locally-based players.
Zifa should take advantage of the unfortunate incident to rebuild football in the country. The missing link has always been lack of development structures in local football.
A concerted effort should be made to invest in junior football so that by the time the Warriors are able to compete in the World Cup qualifiers they would not just be there to make up numbers.
This is not to downplay the gravity of Zifa’s ineptitude. Current Zifa office holders should hang their heads in shame. They have soiled Zimbabwe’s name.