14 December 2018

Zimbabwe: Dembare in Dilemma

Premiership giants Dynamos are still in danger of attracting further FIFA sanctions, amid revelations that the former champions are yet to meet to deal with a directive to pay Christian Joel Epoupa US$17 000. DeMbare were late last month ordered to pay Epoupa his outstanding signing on fees after the Cameroonian took his matter to the world soccer body through an appeal lodged by the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe.

It has however, emerged that time is not on Dynamos' side, with the 30-day period they were given by FIFA fast approaching before much action has been done.

Dynamos are understood to be mulling the idea of engaging ZIFA to assist them to secure more time from FIFA to deal with the Epoupa issue given the financial challenges the country's biggest club is faced with.

Although repeated efforts to secure comments from Dynamos chairman Isiah Mupfurutsa, secretary-general Webster Marechera and treasurer Moses Chikwariro were fruitless, sources said the club's bosses are to meet over the weekend to table a solution.

The costs of appealing against the FIFA ruling are said to be even more expensive than the amount Dynamos need to pay Epoupa, who was their top scorer in 2017 when they took the battle of the championship title to the wire, only to lose on the final day to FC Platinum.

The Glamour Boys received the determination from the FIFA Dispute Resolution Committee late last month, and as of yesterday, they were yet to sit and chart the way forward.

FIFA ordered Dynamos to pay Epoupa US$16 755 for alleged breach of contract.

Although Mupfurutsa recently said the Glamour Boys were aware of the implications of the FIFA resolution and would explore all the options available to them, there are genuine concerns that Dynamos could suffer the kind of fate which befell ZIFA when they failed to settle a US$60 000 debt owed to former Warriors coach Valinhos.

Should they fail to deal with the Epoupa matter, DeMbare risk being summoned to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee with dire consequences such as the possibility of having points docked, which could leave them relegated from the Premier Soccer League.

In the interests of justice under the FIFA statutes, the Harare giants had 10 days to write to the Zurich body, requesting grounds for the DRC decision to enable them to lodge an appeal against the judgment with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

That period has, however, since lapsed.

The Footballers Union of Zimbabwe, where Epoupa is a member, yesterday said their client was yet to receive the money.

FUZ president Desmond Maringwa said his organisation would wait for the process to come to its conclusion before making any comments.

"What I can only say for now is that Joel Epoupa is yet to receive his money from Dynamos Football Club.

"The matter is at FIFA and we will not comment, but wait for the process to take place and see how it ends. As FUZ, our dream is to see players' welfare issues being addressed well," said Maringwa.

Epoupa, who left Dynamos in acrimonious circumstances early this year after serving just half of his two-year contract, dragged the Harare giants to FIFA with the assistance of the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe.

His case was heard in Switzerland on November 15 by the Zurich-based FIFA Dispute Resolution Chamber and a determination was made in favour of the player.

However, there are genuine concerns on how Dynamos are going to source the scarce hard currency to settle the bill, which is also likely to balloon because of interests.

Dynamos are in dire financial straits and a player exodus is looming, with aggrieved senior players understood to be lining up to hand in transfer requests.

The club has since separated with the quartet of Marshal Machazane, Peace Makaha, Obey Mwerahari and Kingston Nkhata.

The four players were first suspended for being the leaders of a mutiny in the camp and were subsequently recommended for release.

Emmanuel Mandiranga, Phakamani Dube, Godfrey Mukambi, James Marufu and Marvellous Mukumba are also understood to be on their way out of the Harare giants.

Dynamos are understood to owe a number of creditors a lot of money, with a financial institution having also secured a garnishee order to recover what they are owed.

This has meant that even the $30 000 they received for reaching the semi-finals of this year's Chibuku Super Cup was garnished by the bank.

The debt reportedly stemmed from Dynamos' participation in the 2008 Champions League during which they reached the semi-final but had to borrow to sustain the campaign in a tough operating environment.

In the 2018 season, Dynamos had to literally survive from hand to mouth while also battling against the embarrassment that would have come with relegation for the first time in their history.

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