Cash-strapped ZIFA seek R36.5 million FIFA bailout  

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The Zimbabwe Football Association has applied for a US$2 million (R36.5) bailout from FIFA, to help domestic football deal with the crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

The association is still waiting for the world football governing body to respond to their request. ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela told The Herald they were hopeful of FIFA’s intervention which they hope will ease the burden on their struggling affiliates.

“The situation is dire for football. So, we approached them on behalf of our affiliates who are suffering from the effects of this coronavirus lockdown. It has not spared anyone, so as a member of the FIFA football family we also applied for assistance,” said Gwesela.

Zimbabwe’s League traditionally runs from March to October, but has been shelved after the Government ordered a ban on all sporting activities and public gatherings to combat the spread of the deadly virus.

ZIFA last week indicated football may only be able to return between August and September, subject to recommendations from the Government and health authorities. But clubs and other entities under ZIFA are incurring costs during the period to sustain their operations but with no income coming their way.

Should FIFA agree to ZIFA’s plea, there will be some relief for the affiliates, some of whom face uncertainty with their sponsors because of the depressed business environment.

“Some clubs had invested in new recruits; others had spent on pre-season training camps and now they also have to pay players and staff who are at home and are not in a position to execute their daily duties,” he said.

“As ZIFA we were also not spared as our new coach Zdravko Logarušic had just commenced actual work and had held his first training camp with the home-based Warriors in preparation for the CHAN tournament which would have started in Cameroon on April 4.”

FIFA recently announced that it was availing US$150 million (R2.7 billion) to its 211 member associations and the funding should be used to mitigate the financial impact of the coronavirus on football in member associations. A number of other FAs around the world, including those in Europe who are usually in very stable financial standing, have reportedly applied for a similar bailout from the world football governing body.

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By Mthokozisi Dube

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