IN THIS day of the short messaging service (sms) mobile telephones and other social communications means, some people write kikiki! while others write hahaha! to express laughter, whether derisively or appreciatively over something they find comical or hilarious.
The news that the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) knockout tournament, call it Zifa Cup or the funny sounding Zifa FA Cup, has been shelved, for the umpteenth time — to use an archaic, but very fitting expression — could only attract a kikiki or hahaha, unfortunately, of a derisive nature.
Shelved is, come to think of it, possibly the best of a wide range of verbs that could be used in this case and let us all hope that someone has not lost the keys to the cupboard which has these shelves and that someone constantly remembers to dust the trophy, assuming it still exists.
You never know, especially in this country where some people melt everything, including road signs and plaques with street names in search of aluminium or some precious sellable metal and all that has gone on at Zifa offices since the tournament was last staged — way back in 2007!
While most football fanatics yearn for the return of the national tournament, so to speak, the signs are pretty ominous and those with a disposition towards the truth are most likely to say the Zifa Cup is some light years away, unless a lot of areas and issues are addressed by those running football in this country.
And the first issue that should be addressed are the conflicting statements from by Zifa management regarding the Zifa Cup – misleading statements or downright untruths, to use a more diplomatic term.
Lest we have forgotten, last February, none other than the two top men at Zifa, president Cuthbert Dube and his deputy Ndumiso Gumede, while visiting Chinhoyi during what was supposed to be a nationwide fact-finding tour, “confirmed” the return of the competition, starting this 2013 season, after apparently securing sponsorship for the tournament.
To quote Gumede: “Everything is in place and the Zifa Cup will reclaim its place as the country’s biggest knockout tournament.”
We were also told that this year the competition would feature only 32 teams — those in the Premier Soccer League and 16 from the lower leagues and that Zifa would disperse $40 000 to each of the four football regions in the country for the qualifying rounds! Reference: NewsDay February 18 2013!
With just over two months to go to the end of the year we have yet to hear of Dube and Gumede completing their nationwide fact-finding tour and, of course, the $40 000 to each region has probably vanished somewhere in the conduit!
The question of course could be: Was the money ever there?
Doubts about the tournament, at least to those that were gullible enough to believe the story that the competition was on its way back, started to emerge in mid-year when Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze told the country that Zifa were still negotiating with prospective sponsors and some loose ends needed to be tied up. Reference: Sunday News!
It was unfortunate the reporter who dutifully reported what Mashingaidze was saying did not remind the man about Gumede’s statement in February — at the time the sponsorship had already been secured and not being negotiated for!
Such conflicting statements simply help to further soil Zifa’s image which is already bad enough.
While funds are difficult to set aside for sponsoring soccer tournaments, there is a lot of things Zifa need to attend to in order to enhance their chances of landing corporate sponsorship for the Zifa Cup.
And most of the issues that need addressing are of corporate governance, especially poor accountability and lack of transparency in the way football matters are handled by Zifa.
Enough has been said about the particular areas that need attention and there is no need to repeat them.
However, it is worth stressing, as if enough has not been said before, that as long as Zifa does not put its house in order, sponsorship will be difficult to find.
Zifa always maintains that it is a very clean lot, but it must not be forgotten that the average perception of Zifa is that it needs a lot of sprucing up.
Other issues that need attention are the behaviour of local sponsors in our football.
While this is not a Zifa issue per se, the national association needs to stamp its authority for sanity to prevail.
We all remember the uncalled-for farce over Econet and NetOne a few years ago or the shenanigans over BancABC sponsoring Dynamos etc!
We all watch English soccer and do we not see the Barclays Bank banners all over the show while Liverpool are draped in their Standard Chartered stripes, but the two British banks are fierce competitors in emerging markets in Africa and elsewhere!
Closer to home we have got the Telkom tournament in South Africa in which teams compete while in their sponsors’ stripes — Vodacom — yet the two telephone companies are strong competitors.
The Nedbank tournament has competing brands like Bidvest, FNB etc featured on competing teams!
So what is so special about football in Zimbabwe that teams cannot compete in the NetOne Charity Shield while putting on their BancABC or Econet colours?
If the Zifa Cup is to come back, particularly as a sponsored tournament, football in general and Zifa in particular need a heavy-stains remover to wash their images clean!