If public sentiment is anything to go by, experienced football administrator, Trevor Carelse-Juul, will emerge the new President of the crisis-torn Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) this coming weekend.
He looks a safe bet to ascend to the position ahead of controversial millionaire and politician Phillip Chiyangwa. Former Footballer of the Year, James Takavada, and Leslie Gwindi are other contestants.
Scores of football supporters interviewed across all provinces in Zimbabwe backed Carelse-Juul, insisting barring vote-buying, he would win the race to replace the beleaguered Cuthbert Dube.
Results of a poll conducted by the country’s leading daily newspaper, The Herald, revealed that Carelse-Juul’s 3 703 was healthy, at the time of going to press.
Chiyangwa was a distant placed millionaire Chiyangwa with a 1 364. Third-placed Gwindi had 1 129 while the legendary Takavada had 769 votes.
However, it is widely feared the majority voting members are capable of selling their souls for the love of a few “dollars” at the expense of football, as already witnessed during the unenviable Dube era in which soccer suffered the most.
The sad state of affairs culminated in the National team being banned from participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for failing to pay coaches, among other issues.
Hence the concern by fans that the football standards would suffer if another tycoon takes over the leadership of the association.
“The nation has spoken, and any genuine ZIFA member with the love of Zimbabwe at heart has already seen what the majority football followers have said. We expect the voting Councillors to just follow the pattern of endorsing Carelse-Juul as the next ZIFA President come Saturday,” said Anesu Kubikwa, a staunch supporter from Highfield.
Echoing same sentiments was George Chabatamoyo of Zengeza in Chitungwiza, who challenged the voting ZIFA board members to “vote wisely” without betraying the nation.
“We all know that Carelse-Juul is likeable due to his knowledge of the sport. We all know he has what it takes to be the next ZIFA president because he has traceable football records, but most importantly, the public opinion has endorsed him, so, who will go against the nation after the people of Zimbabwe had spoken?” asked Chabatamoyo.
Gladys Nzaramasanga of Norton was confident Carelse-Juul will win the poll on Saturday.
“It is clear the majority of Zimbabweans are behind him. I urge Councillors to vote for him as desired by the nation,” said Nzaramasanga. Ngqabutho Ndlovu in Bulawayo urged the ZIFA councillors to respect the wish of the nation. The nation has spoken, so let Carelse-Juul be the new ZIFA leader,” he said.
Rueben Musabaeka in Mutare, said public opinion currently showing the nation’s voting pattern in The Herald should reflect Saturday’s voting.
“We are not influencing anybody here, but from the look of The Herald voting opinion, Carelse-Juul is the undisputed choice,” Musabaeka said.
Arnold Sibhenge in Gweru, said while he wanted legend Takavada, he had since conceded that Carelse-Juul was the people’s choice.
“Nothing would change that. The people of Zimbabwe have overwhelmingly spoken and rallied behind Carelse-Juul,” said Sibhenge said.
In neighbouring South Africa, Morgan Machingura, who resides Johannesburg, said he was watching the events back home closely. “It appears the majority favours Carelse-Juul. I hope such sentiment prevails during voting,” Machungura said.
In Cape Town, Mandlenkosi Ncube, appealed for an inclusive arrangement. “I totally agree with the nation in this voting opinion that Carelse-Juul becomes the ZIFA president on Saturday, but I would prefer his deputy to be a footballer while the likes of Chiyangwa and Gwindi become board members,” Ncube said.
The search for a new head of the local association comes at a time standards are at an all-time low. Save for the women’s senior national team that has qualified for the next Olympics, and the local men’s team that has qualified for the Africa Nations Championships, bad publicity has beset the sport.
The cash-strapped ZIFA has battled to raise funds with Dube mostly financing teams from his own picket.
Bad publicity and maladministration have repelled sponsors. Carelse Juul headed ZIFA during the country’s golden era of football when the senior man’s national team was a continental heavyweight. The Sports and Recreation Commission was nonetheless removed from his position in 1993 amid allegations of impropriety.
Author: Marcus Mushonga