Govt condemns ugly football politics
THE Ministry of Sport and Recreation yesterday denounced the current boardroom “politicking” in football administration and urged Zifa and PSL to find a lasting solution to their conflict over relegation and promotion.
Addressing a media conference in Harare yesterday, Hlongwane was also concerned that football, of late, had been attracting negative headlines following the wave of suspensions in the game.
Hlongwane said the integrity of the game was at stake and appealed “for cool heads to prevail.”
“The Ministry of Sport and Recreation wishes to inform the nation that the events unfolding within the football sector in general and its administration in particular are of concern to the Government,” said Hlongwane.
“We deplore, in the strongest terms possible, the culture of taking hasty decisions that seem to be informed by expediency rather than rational thoughtfulness.”
He said the timing for the announcement of the relegation procedure was not right.
“You are allowed in managerial and leadership experience to make a decision and defer it. For example in this particular case it should have been deferred to affect the following season especially given the fact that an agreement had been made by the Congress, however faulty that agreement was,” said Hlongwane.
“But to say two games before the end of the season you change the template completely and we had a whole year of planning by clubs, shareholders, investors and so on, does not inspire confidence in us in terms of the decision-making processes at the level of football authorities in the country.
“That doesn’t show comprehensiveness. That doesn’t show that there is a 360 degree understanding of issues. Obviously, as Government we don’t want to micromanage football in the country. That’s not our job, our job is to proffer advice and to assist them to do things properly.”
The Minister said the football mother body should put their house in order as a matter of urgency.
He was particularly worried with the “politicking” which he felt has led to a spate of suspensions of PSL leaders in recent weeks. The league’s chairman Peter Dube, Highlanders chief executive Ndumiso Gumede and Caps United board chairperson Lewis Uriri were all banished for various offences. However, Uriri’s ban was later lifted. “There has been a spate of suspensions by the football authorities in the country; suspensions of those that are smaller by those that are bigger.
“And we feel that those suspensions are not just too many but in certain instances we have seen reversal of those suspensions which then informs us that the arrival at those decisions in the first place was not informed by fact, it was not informed by reason, it was not informed by logic and it was not informed by rational thought.
“Even in the reversal certain individuals are then removed from the suspension without having to go through due process and others are left under suspension.
“This only shows that this is not a properly functioning system of administration. And for us as Government that oscillation between left and right is of great concern and we want to caution that our football authorities must make sure that they put their house in order. They shouldn’t hob from crisis to crisis; they shouldn’t hob from one administrative error to another.
“Therefore, we think that football administration in the country should ould not operate on the basis of expediency. Football administration should also be tolerant of views that are different because they are important to nourish their decision making processes.
“Zifa is not a political organisation, it’s a football administration authority and we want football leadership in the country to be cautious in terms of how they arrive at these decisions,” said Hlongwane.
The Minister, however, said Government was impressed by the achievements of the Phillip Chiyangwa-led board since it took over office last year. He commended the Mighty Warriors qualification for the Olympic Games and the Caf Africa Women’s Cup of Nations and the Warriors’ feat to reach next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.
“It’s a mixed bag. Under the dispensation of the current board we have seen success on the field of play as far as the senior national teams are concerned. We are very happy and that is obviously a cause for celebration.
“(But) we worry a lot every time the Congress of the ultimate football authorities in the country does sit. We worry about the decisions that they take.
“Like I said before we don’t want our football authorities to be seemingly hopping from crisis to crisis.
“So the quality of decision-making processes within the structures of football in our country need to be strengthened. The capacity issues need strengthening.
“It is very clear that it is required so that political issues do not take precedence over important structural development issues for football in our country.
“We think that there is a lot of work that the current Zifa board should apply itself to in respect of development, strengthen the structures. And we see no need for unnecessary politicking at the expense of development,” said Hlongwane.