I’M a dedicated reader and, just like you, I am an addict of the art of fine sports writing and the beautiful pictures which it produces.
I also have my favourite sports writers.
They range from Sid Lowe to Oliver Kay, from Tim Vickery in the samba heartland of Brazil to Phil McNulty in London, from Barney Ronay to the amazing Oliver Holt.
I also have my favourite newspapers.
And, one of them is The Guardian, a British daily newspaper, which recently marked the 200th anniversary of its establishment.
It was in that very newspaper, on New Year’s Day, in 2013, where I read probably the best sports article I have ever read in my life.
I keep referring to it because it remains a vintage piece of sports writing art.
And, in its enduring sadness, given it was an obituary, it brandished its excellence in a way no other article had done before, or has done since.
It was penned by Mike Selvey, as a tribute to one of the greatest cricket journalists to ever cover the ultimate gentleman’s game, Christopher Martin-Jenkins.
This week, another member of The Guardian sportswriters, Jonathan Wilson, penned a provocative article, under the headline — ‘Does football need FIFA?’
His article was provoked by a direct challenge to FIFA by the Nordic countries, last year, who flirted with the idea of leaving the world football governing body.
Wilson reminded his readers that FIFA wasn’t born out of innocence and, despite the number of years, which have passed, it remains rooted in its quagmire of controversy and corruption.
The FIFA presidents, argues Wilson, have not been saints either.
“Stanley Rous, with his colonial attitude and naive belief politics could be kept out of sport that led him to oppose the sporting ban on apartheid South Africa?
“Joao Havelange, the arms dealer’s son who led FIFA into its modern era of commercialism and corruption?
“Sepp Blatter, under whom the corruption became institutional?
“And, now Gianni Infantino, with his moral myopia and populist vacuity, only ever speaking for the moment, telling mourning Brazilians that every country should name a stadium after Pele.”
Wilson even imagines the possibility of a world, in which Europe unites with South America, in a rebellion against FIFA.
The beauty of fine, no-holds barred sports writing, is that you don’t have to agree with it, for you to be charmed by it.
The four letters, which make up FIFA, have dominated the conversation in Zimbabwean football, in the last one-and-half years.
FIFA’s decision to suspend us, from their global family, was rooted in what the Zurich-based leaders said was an expression of their gross displeasure in third parties interfering in the way their kingdom is run.
Their message was very loud and clear —in this kingdom, if we say jump, the only response we expect from you is to ask us as to how high you should do that.
This was a very powerful cartel, this was the sporting version of Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia dressed in blue business suits and Adidas kits, on the occasions they are on field tours.
A global shadowy criminal society, with a public face, built on an agenda to deceive the world that its grand mission is to take care and develop this beautiful game called football.
This is a game which claims that its foundation is a level playing field and, therefore, the expectation is that everything is done on the principles of Fair Play.
Well, that’s what they tell us.
But, the grim reality is that this is a game which, in its corridors of power, is as ugly as it is beautiful, as unfair as it is fair, as chaotic as it is orderly.
It is run largely like a Mafia organisation, by a brotherhood of some of society’s worst possible administrators, deeply flawed men whose path to the throne is largely built on patronage, deception and corruption, instead of a pedigree to provide real leadership.
To these men, it didn’t matter that Felton Kamambo could not pronounce $32 500 000, even when it came in the form of a written prepared speech in words, ‘thirty two million five hundred thousand dollars.’
We all remember what he said, live at a media conference on July 11, 2020, as he unveiled the allocations from the FIFA Covid-19 bailout package.
“Our women football, we’ve allocated a total of thirty two mirrion, ehhh, 500 thousand, eeeehhh mirrion Zimbabwean dollars.”
Thirty two million, five hundred thousand million Zimbabwean dollars!
This wasn’t a man making a mistake, something which is common among us given that, as human beings, we were mere mortals and perfection doesn’t exist in our world.
This was a man who was completely out of depth with what he was trying to say, the figure he was trying to read out, which was tragic given it’s an amount he had cleared, as the ZIFA boss, to be allocated to the women’s game.
If he couldn’t understand the amount of money, which the organisation he led, or pretended to lead, had given out, how then would the same man be expected to provide leadership, in accounting for that money?
How then was this man, who was struggling to pronounce this amount, negotiating for us, and our game, behind closed doors at the FIFA meetings he used to attend, so that we also get a good chunk of the FIFA aid?
Maybe, that explains why the Football Association of Malawi were able to secure FIFA funds, to upgrade their Mpira Stadium, to a 10 000 seater ground, while nothing came into our coffers for such capital projects.
Maybe, it also explains why the Malawian football leaders announced in March this year that they are set to build a major stadium, in Nsanje, with the assistance of FIFA, while nothing was coming into our coffers for such huge projects.
The Mpira Village, which hosts the FAM headquarters in the Chiwembe Township of Blantyre, is a project which was funded by FIFA and there is a hotel, a restaurant, a gym, a bar and the 10 000-seater stadium.
Now, this is a country which has only qualified for the AFCON finals twice, in the last 37 years, with both qualifications coming in the last 10 years.
They have never had a player in such major leagues like the English Premiership where we hold the record of having the first African star to feature in the league and its most decorated African star.
But you can see what the Malawian football leadership have been doing in the past few years, in terms of trying to change the face of their game, and it’s not a coincidence that FAM boss, Walter Nyamilandu, spent time as a member of the FIFA executive committee.
On Thursday, he was elected onto the CAF executive committee.
Just imagine Kamambo as a CAF executive committee member?
The one tasked to reveal to the continent, at a media briefing, that CAF have just released US$32 500 000 to their member associations, to help them in their youth development programmes?The mere imagination alone, of that drama, is quite frightening.
by Nyasha Munetsi, Nyasha Mushekwi and Desmond Maringwa.
These guts presented a true picture of the rotten state of football administration in this country and, where their voices were not being heard by some conflicted FIFA officials.
It changed because Fernandes, as a former player, couldn’t understand how some national team players were asked to camp at a ZIFA Village which looks like a prison camp.
It changed because Fernandes could not understand the wisdom of FIFA continuing to provide a shield of protection to a leadership whose constituency was failing the game and the players.
That’s why suddenly, the same FIFA is now recognising the outcome of the ZIFA EGM of last year and, crucially, is now saying Kamambo’s term of office came to an end in December last year.
because his main weapon, his vote, was now meaningless.
He had to go.
And, on Monday, confirmation came through that one of domestic football’s worst experiments, which came at a huge cost in excess of thirty two mirrion, ehhh, 500 thousand, eeeehhh mirrion Zimbabwean dollars, was over.
Hopefully, Kamambo now knows the complex nature of what constitutes the powerful and flawed secret society called FIFA.
To God Be The Glory!
Peace to the GEPA Chief, the Big Fish, George Norton, Daily Service, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and all the Chakariboys still in the struggle.
Come on United!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Positive Eye News