The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Zifa CEO in Hospital

ZIFA chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, was forced to miss yesterday's crucial board meeting to discuss their 2013 budget after being admitted at a Harare hospital on Thursday night.

Mashingaidze, who was recently diagnosed to be diabetic, saw his condition worsen earlier on Thursday leading to his admission at West End hospital.

The Zifa chief executive was, however, in a jovial mood, cracking a joke or two with visitors by his hospital bedside during the morning visiting hours.

Mashingaidze, who also complained of pain in his legs, appeared to be more worried too that he had been forced to sit out the board indaba, which preceded a Zifa assembly extra-ordinary meeting scheduled for Prince Edward High School today.

Zifa chief operating officer, Joseph Mamutse, stood in for Mashingaidze during the board meeting and is expected to do the same at the assembly meeting.

Mamutse could not be drawn into discussing much on the outcome of the board meeting whose deliberations spilled into the night.

"There isn't much to say at the moment because this meeting was in preparation for the assembly meeting. The best news will be tomorrow after the assembly meeting because everything that was discussed would have to be ratified by the councillors," said Mamutse.

Zifa are racing against time to ensure their proposed budget is submitted to Fifa by January 31 with the world soccer governing body reportedly keen to ascertain whether the association has taken enough austerity measures to stem a further budget deficit.

This is because Zifa are sitting on a staggering US$4 million debt and in a tight operating environment characterised by low sponsorship levels, the board believes that putting in place a Football Trust of eminent people could help them unlock other revenue inflows for the national game.

Fifa wants Zifa to severely cut down on expenditure and Mashingaidze had earlier in the week acknowledged as much before he was hospitalised.

Mashingaidze also insisted that the assembly, Zifa's top policy making body, would have to critically assess the situation in the domestic game and ensure that the budget that would be discussed and ratified would show the association's willingness to scale down on its operations.

"Our budget has to show that we are eating what we gather because if our debt keeps mounting, we risk losing Fifa support as well," Mashingaidze said.

There were concerns by late yesterday though that the budget statement had not been circulated to every assembly member for them to fully study it before today's meeting.

Zifa Mashingaidze, also said, would despite their financial problems, remain committed to ensuring that the Warriors fulfil their remaining 2014 World Cup qualifying assignments.

The Warriors are due to get their preparations underway on February 6 when they date Botswana in an international friendly and new coach Klaus Dieter Pagels is expected to name the squad for that game this weekend.

Apart from tabling the proposed budget, which if adopted by the assembly is expected to be sent to Fifa, the board is understood to have received an update on their probe committee that is investigating the mystery over the Fifa Ballon d'Or vote.

Mamutse again declined to shed light on how much ground the probe team had covered in trying to unravel the questions surrounding over who voted as Warriors skipper after national team vice-captain Esrom Nyandoro, whose name appears on the ballot papers, declined having taken part in the exercise.

The probe team would also have to establish who voted in place of former national coach Rahman Gumbo after the ex-FC Platinum gaffer also denied ever taking part in the vote.

There were no such problems however, with the Mighty Warriors with their coach Rose Mugadza confirming that skipper Onai Chingawo and she, had cast their ballots in their official capacities.

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