…Football house admits guilt over Morocco fiasco
By GRACE CHAILE LESOETSA
THE Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) yesterday admitted guilt over the under-20 women national team missing out on the All-Africa Games and apologised for using Government as a scapegoat.
It was proven during a meeting called by Minister of Sport Emmanuel Mulenga in Lusaka that FAZ submitted the names of the players after accreditation deadline of July 31, which made it difficult to secure visas on time.
Mulenga said FAZ did not communicate to him over the decision for the team to break camp and only learnt of it through the media. The closed-door meeting which lasted two hours was attended by the ministry’s permanent secretary Joe Kapembwa, director of sport Bessie Chelemu, National Olympic Committee of Zambia (NOCZ) general secretary Boniface Kambikambi, FAZ vice president Rix Mweemba, his general secretary Adrian Kashala and their technical director Layson Zulu. Addressing the media, Mulenga said it was not Governments’ fault as it fulfilled its duty to ensure the girls travelled to Morocco.
“FAZ were not certain of which team they will send whether under-20 or under-23. When FAZ never sent their shortlist, NOC thought the soccer body was not going to participate and only accredited those federations which submitted,”
“On August 11, our sports director received a call on why the team was not going to participate and the PS called for an urgent meeting the next day and it was agreed upon that FAZ would send the girls directly to Morocco.
“And owing to time, we could not secure funds from Ministry of Finance so we agreed that my ministry would meet the cost for participation, meals and accommodation while FAZ secures air tickets,” he said.
He said the ministry of Foreign Affairs worked tirelessly to secure the visas in 48 hours. The minister warned FAZ that he was not into office to fight but to develop sports.
“I am not interested in any fights, I am interested in unity for the common goal of developing sport in our nation. My responsibility is to develop a child into a responsible citizen because as a ministry we were convinced that by exposing the girls at the AAG, they would get a chance of being poached by international clubs and will also be paid allowances as they come from humble backgrounds,” he said.
Mweemba could not dispute the Minister’s explanation and apologised for dragging his name into disrepute.
“I wish to retract the statement attributed to me to the minister here. The impression created was that the ministry was wrong and that the minister was also wrong to this saga that had happened. I think it is the misunderstanding of the roles of how government operates. I seek for the minister’s forgiveness,” he pleaded.
Mulenga forgave FAZ and urged the association to work with the ministry to ensure young people are well nurtured.