Zimbabweans say Government must take a cue from Nigeria and dissolve the ZIFA board amid outrage over the football association's president Cuthbert Dube who went to Brazil to watch the final of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, while the national game is bleeding.
Fifa last week suspended Nigeria from international football due to government interference after the country's High Court ruling granted an injunction to suspend the country's top soccer official, Aminu Maigari.
Maigari, was shown the exit along with his executive committee and the Nigerian Football Federation congress following the team's round-of-16 exit from the World Cup after losing to France.
Dube and his entourage, which included Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze, Premier Soccer League chairman Twine Phiri, legislator Temba Mliswa — who chairs the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture — and Sports Minister Andrew Langa, were part of the crowd that watched the final of the 2014 Fifa World Cup match between Germany and Argentina yesterday at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
This is despite the fact that Zimbabwe was booted out of the preliminary stages of qualification for the 2018 Fifa Soccer World Cup by lowly Taifa Stars of Tanzania.
National Soccer Supporters Association public relations and communications manager Paddington Japajapa yesterday led the clamour of disapproval and said drastic measures against the Zifa board similar to what happened in Nigeria should be taken.
Founder of the Lifelong Footballers' Trust Francis Zimunya and veteran football administrator Chris Sambo also slammed the country's football leaders for abandoning their constituency for the glamour of the World Cup.
Dube and Mashingaidze's trips were sponsored by FIFA, while sponsorship had to be sought for the rest of his travelling troupe.
Japajapa said football supporters were not amused that Dube and his party were enjoying the football jamboree, while the nation was still clueless following the failure to qualify for both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations to be held next year in Morocco.
"We are here to condemn in the strongest terms the association's president who decides to go and enjoy the life in Brazil while our football is suffering," he said. "Dube was supposed to have been ashamed of himself, especially with all those stories coming out about the scandals at the Premier Service Medical Aid Society.
"He is one person who is never seen at the local stadiums, not even for the big games like the Harare Derby or when the national team is playing. That on its own shows that he has no interest whatsoever for the game.
"So, we are saying as supporters, this man cannot lead our game anywhere. The Government should take brave steps if we are to safeguard our game by dissolving the current ZIFA board, with Dube obviously the main target.
"We have seen what has happened in Nigeria, and although they have been banned, sometimes it's necessary to be chucked out if things are as bad as they are in Zimbabwe."
Japajapa said even if Zimbabwe was to earn a ban from Fifa, it was not going to have any serious football for the next two or so years anywhere.
"If we are to be banned, this will actually give us time to put our house in order, besides sending a strong message to the likes of Dube that football is serious business," he said.
"We are also quite surprised that some people have also joined the gravy train and we are saying they should drop out of that immediately. Our message is clear, we want the Zifa board dissolved."
Former Zifa board member and founder of the Lifelong Footballers' Trust, Zimunya, also criticised the Zimbabwe football leadership for jumping onto the planes to watch the World Cup in Brazil, while domestic football was in intensive care and in dire need of their guidance.
Zifa wrote various letters to individuals and companies asking for donations to help them send members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sport to Brazil.
"The clubs and players are suffering while a few individuals are wining and dining with the famous," said Zimunya. "The funds used towards the trip should have been used to improve the welfare of the players, whose interests we represent."
Former PSL chairman, Sambo, said Zimbabwe failed to make an impression at the African Cup of Nations and should be pre-occupied with developing proper football structures.
Zifa revealed that at most five tickets were ordered through the association for the World Cup matches underway in Brazil.
The figures are almost a drop in the ocean compared to the hundreds of tickets secured by Zimbabweans for the last World Cup finals in South African four years ago.
For the 2006 World Cup, Zifa received 290 tickets, but the bunch was sold under a shady deal that also involved their international clients, Bacchini International, at grossly inflated prices.
Zifa spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said there was nothing wrong with Zimbabwe getting invites to the World Cup final, like any other affiliate.
Fifa paid the direct expenses for Dube and Mashingaidze.
A few months ago, Mliswa was critical of the way Zifa and the Sports Commission have been conducting their business, but appeared to soften his stance when he addressed an indaba hosted by the association.
"I have to find out exactly the number of tickets ordered through the association, but it's something like five," said Gwesela. "Very people placed orders for World Cup tickets and it could be possible that some Zimbabweans purchased through other avenues. Zifa never got any complimentary tickets."
Gwesela said he was not aware how Langa and Mliswa accessed tickets to watch matches in Brazil.