THE woes that have been haunting women’s football in this country reached another level with the Mighty Warriors boycotting the second leg of the second round Olympic qualifiers at the National Sports Stadium. The match was expected to kick-off at 3pm but the Zimbabwe senior women’s side didn’t show up for duty. According to ZIFA communication and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela, some of the clubs withdrew their players from camp on Saturday at ZIFA Village and this made it impossible for them to proceed with the match.
“Around 10 pm yesterday (Saturday) we were notified by the team manager that Blue Swallows, Correctional Queens and Black Rhinos football administrators had taken away players from camp totalling to 12,’’ said Gwesela.
“Then, today, (in the) morning Herentals also took away their players from camp.
‘’So, we communicated with FIFA about our position. We requested FIFA to allow us to change the players, FIFA accepted that we can change the players.
‘’By the time the teams arrived at the stadium the new players had not reported for camp.
“So, we then wrote to FIFA seeking postponement of the match but FIFA have written back to us to say can you consult with Zambian Football Association so that they accept that, then the match can be postponed, that’s where we stand.’’
While Gwesela said there were no reasons communicated to ZIFA on why the clubs withdrew their players, there have been indications that action was provoked by pleas from the players.
The players have been complaining that they have not been receiving their allowances, appearance fees and bonuses from the association.
They claim the stand-off with the ZIFA leaders goes- back to the time they took part in the COSAFA tournament where the Mighty Warriors finished third.
The Mighty Warriors were expected to get $2 400 each for their participation at the regional tournament where they settled for bronze.
ZIFA have also come up with a vasty-reduced payment schedule for national teams while the association also raised the red flag on Saturday when they announced one of their former employees had obtained a court order to freeze their bank account.
“I cannot comment on rumours, unfortunately, but what I can confirm is that we have a contractual obligation between us and players and not between ZIFA and clubs.
‘’Clubs are members of ZIFA, so I cannot comment on issues where reasons were not proffered when withdrawing these players from camp.
“Unfortunately, the clubs that took players from camp did not proffer any reasons for withdrawing players from camp.
But, in terms of regulations governing the release and status of players, once a player is released into camp, it’s prohibited, it’s not allowed for you to withdraw a player from camp especially when the game is on the international calendar,” said Gwesela.
Zambia’s head of delegation, Rix Mweemba, who is also the vice-president of the Football Association of Zambia, expressed disappointment over yesterday’s development and said they now await communication from CAF and FIFA.
“What happens is that we are travelling back tomorrow definitely as per programme but decisions and everything else is done by CAF or FIFA.
“We are law-abiding, we don’t take the law into our own hands. At the moment we can say a report has to be done by the match commissioner to FIFA and CAF.
“Whatever decision is coming out of there, we shall abide by it,” said Mweemba.
While Gwesela said they were consulting with the Zambians for postponement of the match, after writing to FIFA, Mweemba said consultation should have been done earlier.
“We had a pre-match meeting yesterday at Cresta Oasis . . . Everything was done but we were told when we arrived here 15 minutes when our team was warming only to hear Zimbabwe are not coming, they have got problems.
“Consultations, this should have taken place maybe even two days ago, I mean we are brothers and sisters with Zimbabwe . . . we have a lot to learn here.
‘’But, you see, when everybody is ready and all is set what are the implications of changing that date? . . . It’s a lot of expenses.
“If we had been told earlier we could adjust, make a programme, accordingly, but to just come and incur that is carelessness again in spending, we can’t allow such a thing, it’s unfortunate that’s what I can say,” said Mweemba.
Zambia’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Emmanuel Tawana Chenda, who had come to watch the match, said this was a sad development.
The Zambians carried a 5-0 lead in the first leg after scoring five times in the second half of that match in Lusaka. The Mighty Warriors, who held their own in the first half, blamed fatigue for their second half collapse after having travelled to Lusaka by bus. Herald