Division One clubs defy ZIFA over National League

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By Sports Reporter

THE Gift Banda-led ZIFA board’s attempt to fast-track the formation of a National Division One League without proper consultations looks set to suffer a stillbirth after clubs from all four regions vowed to resist the move which they say is unconstitutional.

The Banda-led ZIFA board, which is not recognised by the world football governing body FIFA, recently revealed that its executive committee had resolved to establish a National Division One League made up of 16 teams.

The envisaged league which was expected to kick off imminently would be composed of four teams that were relegated from the Premier Soccer League at the end of last season and 12 invited teams from the existing Northern, Eastern, Southern and Central region division one leagues.

The planned nationwide division one league would subsequently become the new feeder of the top-flight league while the existing regional leagues would be relegated to third-tier league status.

However, the move by ZIFA is being met with stiff resistance by the four regions.

In a letter to acting ZIFA chief executive Xolisani Gwesela, the clubs speaking through the chairpersons of the four regional division one leagues rubbished the move.

The four regional chairpersons, Andrew Tapela of the Southern Region, Patrick Hill of the Central Region, Davison Muchena of the Eastern Region, and Martin Kweza of the Northern Region argue that the ZIFA executive committee does not have the constitutional powers to make such a decision outside the ZIFA Congress.

They said the fast-tracked move to establish a National Division One League was done without consideration of the contractual agreements that the clubs and the regions had entered into with sponsors and players.

“As the leadership of the Regional Leagues and in consultation with our respective clubs, we note with concern the apparent breach of the ZIFA constitution in the manner in which you seek to admit the National League as a member,” read part of the letter.

“Article 9.1 of the ZIFA constitution states that the Congress shall decide whether to admit, suspend or expel a Member, whereas Article 9.2 goes further to state that, the admission may be granted if the applicant fulfills the requirements of ZIFA, such requirements are as enunciated in Article 10(3).”

“We wish to bring to your attention that the admission of a member is a preserve of the Congress, and such a decision cannot be passed by the Executive Committee. For avoidance of doubt Article 10, merely provides for the membership of a National League once it has been established. The said article must never be read to imply that it is a requirement, but merely a provision whose establishment must follow the strict laid down guidelines as provided for in Article 9.”

They added: “There can never be any logical reason why we may want to rupture all contractual obligations which teams in the lower leagues may have entered into, be it with players or sponsors. We have teams that signed players on the basis that they will be playing Division One Football. We had teams which have signed up with sponsors and drawn up budgets for regional division one football, all this and many more other factors have to be evaluated for the good of our game.”