18 December 2018

Zimbabwe: Dembare Appeal Epoupa Case

DYNAMOS have lodged an appeal with FIFA following the world soccer body's ruling ordering the Harare giants to pay their ex-striker Joel Christian Epoupa in excess of US$16 000 in hard currency they owe him. Relations between the Glamour Boys and the Cameroonian forward sensationally broke down early this year after the latter started demanding that he should receive his dues in the scarce hard United States dollar.

Epoupa didn't even withdrew his salary loaded in his account by the team's principal sponsors, NetOne, for three months in protest.

It was at that point that the 2017 Soccer Star of the Year finalist started to demand the remainder of his signing-on fee in hard currency.

NetOne even offered to offset what was owed to him, but his agent Gilbert Sengwe couldn't budge.

A series of crisis-solving meetings between the two parties failed to bring desirable results and the Cameroonian international decided to retrace his way back to his native country.

But that was before he engaged the services of the increasingly effective Footballers Union of Zimbabwe who then took the matter to FIFA.

While Epoupa has found a new home in the Botswana top-flight, FIFA ruled late last month that DeMbare should pay the big forward what he is owed.

The global football mother-body gave the Harare giants 10 days to appeal the ruling and 30 days to settle Epoupa's dues failure of which would attract heavy penalties, with the possibility of points docking which could leave Dynamos in relegation.

But the team acted swiftly, immediately writing to FIFA to reconsider their position.

While the team remain firm they will try by all means possible to follow what FIFA would have said, they remain bitter over the manner in which the whole Epoupa saga unfolded.

The team is clearly pointing fingers on well-to-do Premiership rivals whom they accuse of having dangled a bigger carrot to their star forward.

Dynamos secretary-general Webster Marechera said Epoupa was actually being paid by a certain Premiership club during the three months he was not withdrawing his salary from his account. While Marechera refused to name the team, it is widely believed that he was referring to Ngezi Platinum Stars who were reportedly chasing Epoupa's signature.

"As Dynamos Football Club, we are committed to honour what FIFA ordered us to do. But, in the meantime, we have appealed the case and we are awaiting the organisation's response," said Marechera.

"It is unfortunate that a corporate owned team took advantage of our situation to sway Epoupa's attention. They promised him heaven and he couldn't resist. I think it's a bad practice. See where we are now. Epoupa went for three months without withdrawing his salary and we are reliably informed that he was receiving money from that particular team which is not good.

"After seeing that things had turned badly, that particular team then decided to let him go as they feared our backlash."

Marechera said his team is hoping that FIFA will review their judgment as the team don't have the money.

He said with the prevailing liquidity challenges prevailing in the country, Dynamos could end up attracting full FIFA sanctions.

"Dynamos is not spared by the cash crisis in the country either. We will run around as a club if our appeal is thrown out. But, it's not going to be easy though we want to follow the FIFA's orders."

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