HARARE CITY Football Club chairman Leslie Gwindi’s chances of contesting the next Zifa elections set for March 29 are now almost next to nothing after he was found guilty of bringing the game of football into disrepute by Zifa’s disciplinary committee.
He would be sentenced today.
Gwindi appeared before the committee on December 20 last year. Allegations against him are that he verbally attacked Zifa, the Premier Soccer League (PSL), Delta Beverages .
who sponsor the league through their Castle Lager brand, former Warriors coach Klaus-Dieter Pagels from Germany as well as the then Education, Sports, Arts and Culture minister, David Coltart while addressing the Bulawayo Press Club last March.
Gwindi, who had brought in former Zifa president Leo Mugabe, vice-president Vincent Pamire and Motor Action Football Club director Eric Rosen as witnesses, admitted uttering the alleged comments, but stressed that they were merely an expression of an opinion given in the spirit of trying to help improve the game.
He said the utterances were in line with the rights conferred on him by the Constitution of Zimbabwe — the right to express an opinion, which opinion constituted a fair comment in light of the fact that Zifa, Delta, Pagels and Coltart were not sacred cows.
He argued they should accept criticism. The complainant, Zifa, was represented by PSL chairman Twine Phiri and Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede.
Phiri said he was eventually summoned to Delta where he was asked by the marketing director Max Karombo if PSL still wanted the Delta sponsorship following the comments by the respondent.
Phiri stated that he had told Karombo that they still wanted the sponsorship and had consequently apologised. He further stated that Delta wanted to know what action the PSL would take.
“Having gone through the evidence adduced in this matter, I am convinced that the respondent used bad language likely to bring the game of football into disrepute. Accordingly, I find the respondent guilty as charged,” read part of the ruling by Wilbert Mandinde.
Andrew Msengezi concurred: “I wish to add that the statements by the respondent were objectionable. They were a direct attack on the current Zifa board to which we heard evidence that the respondent contested in the last elections and lost. The next elections are due in March 2014. There is nothing we find in the Press releases which was calculated to promote football.
“It is an insult to publish in a newspaper or newspapers that a coach who Zifa fortuitously found available to assist the national team would be labelled ‘a tourist who had come to Zimbabwe to enjoy the Victoria Falls’.
“That with respect is an insult and cannot qualify as a ‘fair comment’ because Pagels did not come to Zimbabwe as a tourist at all.
“And to suggest that the Zifa board has ‘no brains’ cannot be a ‘fair comment’. That is an insult directed at the mother body of football in this country. And that coming from a football administrator seeking glory through the Press cannot be condoned. I agree that the utterances did or were likely to bring the game of football into disrepute,” concluded Msengezi.
Zifa recently fired its technical director Nelson Matongorere for masquerading as Warriors captain in the Ballon D’Or vote.