Saturday, 4 November 2017

I DID NOT ABUSE ANY FIFA FUNDS : CHIYANGWA FUMES

ZIFA have hailed the efforts of their president Philip Chiyangwa in sourcing sponsorship for the association, which has augmented the nearly $1 million they received under the Financial Assistance Programme from FIFA in the last two years. Since his election into office in December 2015 Chiyangwa, who inherited a bankrupt Association has, apart from bringing stability in a largely poisoned football environment, also secured about $3 million that has kept ZIFA running.

ZIFA’s relations with FIFA have normalised and the Association are in good financial standing with world soccer body who have injected $850 842 into Zimbabwe in the last two years. Board member finance Philemon Machana yesterday paid tribute to Chiyangwa and fellow executive members for going the extra mile to ensure corporate governance systems were implemented at the Association.

Machana and Chiyangwa, flanked by ZIFA chief executive Joseph Mamutse and the communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela yesterday, also dismissed unsubstantiated allegations that the Association’s management cannot account for a $2 million grant from FIFA. 

An irate Chiyangwa also threatened to take legal action against South African television channel Supersport for repeating claims by a local newspaper, on their weekly “Soccer Africa,’’ suggesting he had abused the funds that FIFA gave to Zimbabwe in the short period that he had been ZIFA president.

Machana said the ZIFA leadership could not rush to make public their audited accounts before they were tabled by domestic football’s top policy-making body – the assembly. The ZIFA finance guru, who rarely makes public appearances, however, said they had felt compelled to clear the air over some of the untested claims being made against Chiyangwa and his board, especially charges of financial impropriety.

“FIFA has got three funding programmes that it offers to Associations and those are, operational support programme, the projects programme and the travel and solidarity assistance. The quantum of those amounts, FIFA has given us for a four-year cycle – 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The total that we can access on projects and operational support is five million dollars.

“The funds are distributed as follows – on operational support, we get $500 000 per year. On projects assist, we get $750 000 per year. Then lately since the last half of this year, they announced in retrospect that there would be a travel assist which is $175 00. So we are supposed to get for 2016 in terms of reimbursement of what we should have been given last year for travel assistance and that is $175 000 for last year and $175 000 for this year which means $350 000 up to this year. Then next year we must access another $175 000,’’ Machana said.

Machana said it is through the travel and solidarity package that ZIFA would be able to fly the Warriors to Lesotho and Namibia for international friendly matches on the FIFA weekend.
“This (travel and solidarity) is not for every member association but selected global national teams which FIFA felt are in maybe in terms of flight connectivity or the state of economies in those nations they find it difficult to travel for matches and they found it necessary that there is such need for further assistance.
“It is very difficult to travel in Africa, in particular, as opposed to other countries where the flight distance to match destinations is about 500km only and that is why the majority of these countries that are benefiting from it are from Africa. So this is what we have got and this is what we are entitled to from FIFA,” said Machana.

Both Chiyangwa and Machana stressed that the challenges that characterised their board’s entry into office and the problems encountered by the Association with the abortive disbanding of ZIFA and formation of NAFAZ also led to a brief suspension of financial assistance from FIFA. This meant that of the FAP funds categories that ZIFA are expected to receive annually from FIFA, the association has so far only received money meant for operations. Machana said ZIFA were unable to access funding for projects because of the association’s debt legacy which had resulted in some court battles with creditors.

“The $500 000 per year, operational fund, it’s meant for the day-to-day football activities of ZIFA but before we get that, we send them a budget that has to be endorsed by Congress. In other words the money that we are getting this year would have been given based on a budget passed last year at our AGM,’’ Machana said.

With FIFA being strict on the usage of their funds, Machana said the world body would have raised a red flag had the claims that Chiyangwa management had been abusing the grants.

“For all the funds which we get per year you must satisfy certain set conditions such as providing audited accounts which had been endorsed by the AGM, FIFA also does send its own auditors to specifically look at their financial assistance programme and details of how the money was used, for instance if it’s for women, for operations, for travel they want to know details of how the money was spent.

“After that they then say, you are now eligible to get the next tranche of money… so you must be certified to be in good standing and we are happy that we continue to get funding from FIFA because indeed we have been and we are still in good standing. Then comes the projects funding which I spoke about, the $750 000. The projects funds of $750 0000 is meant for things such as infrastructure development, buying premises or revenue generating activities.

“Regarding projects, we have not got anything, infrastructure comes with title deeds, so with people suing, we are still trying to deal with the debt legacy before we can access that and we have to assess if some creditors will not try to attach that same property. According to a brief cash flow table which Machana released on the FIFA grant ZIFA received $136 918 from the world body in 2016 which was their first tranche and the association currently have $51 510 in their coffers.’’

Machana said board members had often gone out of their way to use personal resources to chip in where ZIFA came short financially. Just days after assuming office, Chiyangwa secured a $1 million package from businessman Wicknell Chivhayo with the first tranche of that funding being used to settle off ZIFA’s debt to Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet, which ensured that the Warriors would not be expelled from the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Chiyangwa also secured funding that oiled the Warriros African Cup of Nations campaign at the 2017 finals in Gabon. herald

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