We never funded Cuthbert Dube and Zifa's trip to Brazil: FIFA reveals

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Trips undertaken by the leadership of the cash-strapped Zifa to Brazil to watch the 2014 World Cup semi-finals and final, which sparked a lot of debate last week, were not funded by Fifa.

Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze travelled to Brazil ahead of the World Cup semi-final and final, their second trans-Atlantic trip to the same country in a month, after having attended the Fifa congress.

Temba Mliswa, the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture also travelled as a guest of Zifa. Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Andrew Langa was also in Brazil as a guest of the Premier Soccer League under their partnership with SuperSport.

What was known, until this weekend, was that Mashingaidze sent a number of letters, to prospective sponsors, asking for financial support to send their guests, members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport, to Brazil to watch the World Cup final.

The costs, related to Mashingaidze and Dube's trip to Brazil, we had been told, were all covered by the world football governing body.

"The president will leave later today, the chief executive officer will leave tomorrow," Zifa spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said ahead of the duo's trip.

Asked on who was funding the trip of the two, Gwesela dismissed speculation that funds earmarked for development were being diverted to cover the costs.
"ALL THE EXPENSES FOR THE TRIP ARE PAID BY FIFA," Gwesela claimed.

When reports emerged, at the weekend, that some of the Zimbabwean delegates had also taken their spouses, to watch the World Cup final, questions started to be asked if, indeed, the expenses were all taken care of by either Fifa or the other sponsors.

Yesterday, in response to written questions sent to the world football governing body, the Fifa media department said the Zurich-organisation did not fund the trips for the FA leaders who went to Brazil to watch the World Cup semi-finals and final.

"They (the FA leaders) just received complementary ticket for the matches," the Fifa media department said in a short response to the questions.

While Fifa foot the bills of the three FA representatives — usually the president, the board member in charge of finance and the chief executive — for the Fifa Congress, which was held just before the World Cup in Brazil, it's a different ball game when it comes to those who wish to go and watch the games as they have to bear their costs.

This means that either Zifa funded the trip for their leaders to be in Brazil or Dube used his personal funds to travel and watch the World Cup semi-finals and final.

Certainly, for an association whose Young Warriors were thrown out of the Under-20 and Under-17 African championships, because there was no money for them to travel for their reverse fixtures in Angola and Congo Brazzaville, this expenditure will represent a case of misplaced priorities.

While the Zifa leaders could afford to foot the costs of not only the travel but the stay in Brazil, the hastily-arranged international friendly between the Mighty Warriors and Banyanya Banyana was delayed, for about 30 minutes, because the poor bus given to the visitors to use broke down on the way to Rufaro on Match Day. The South Africans, too, had to take care of their costs for the duration of their stay here.

The Lifelong Footballers' Trust criticised the Zimbabwe football leadership for jumping onto the planes to watch the World Cup in Brazil while domestic football is in intensive care and in need of guidance.

Francis Zimunya, the founder of the Trust and veteran football administrator, Chris Sambo, slammed the country's football leaders for abandoning their constituency for the glamour of the World Cup.

"The clubs and players are suffering while a few individuals are wining and dining with the famous. The funds used towards the trip should have been used to improve the welfare of the players, whose interests we represent," said Zimunya.

Sambo said Zimbabwe has failed to make an impression at the African Cup of Nations and should be pre-occupied with developing football structures.


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