BULAWAYO-based Hearts of Oak players, management at loggerheads over Covid-19 funds - Footy Dreams

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BULAWAYO-based Hearts of Oak players, management at loggerheads over Covid-19 funds

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BULAWAYO-based Zimbabwe Women’s Soccer League side Hearts of Oak players are up in arms with team management, accusing them of diverting a larger chunk of the Covid-19 relief funds and paying them peanuts from the $260 000 the club got from Zifa.

Hearts of Oak are one of the 16 women’s Super League teams that received the bailout fund from Fifa through Zifa, as part of the football authorities’ move to assist affiliates badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic that saw sporting activities across the globe being brought to a sudden halt in March.

Hearts of Oak received the money in early July and, according to players that spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, team management used a divide and rule tactic that saw some getting as little as $1 000, while a few close to team management were given almost $3 000.

“This money is meant to benefit players, but what the club is doing is not fair. We were only given $1 000 in the first week and since then nothing has come and all attempts to engage management has hit a brick wall,” said one player.

She said they also heard rumours that some of their colleagues received far more than that, but no one was coming out in the open to confirm, an indication that they probably were given strict instructions not to share information with anyone.

Contacted for comment, team owner Elias Mtendi refuted allegations that they used divide and rule tactics.

He alleged there had been an attempt by team manager Priscila Ncube and captain Biola Mpofu to smuggle in people that were not players and those are the ones that got $1 000 before the ‘scam’ was discovered.

“During the process of allocating money to the players, we discovered that there were names given to us by the team manager and captain who were not part of the team. Unfortunately, we discovered later after we had given them $1 000. As it is, almost three quarters of the players got $3 000 and those who have not received the money are yet to give us their EcoCash numbers,” said Mtendi.

However, some players said Mtendi’s claims were not factual.

“Look there was an attempt by our team manager and captain to have a meeting with management to work on modalities of disbursing the funds, but there was no cooperation from them (management). No one on the list was an outsider; everyone was a Hearts of Oak player and the fact that they were not commanding regular places in the starting line-up does not make then ineligible to receive the money, perhaps what could have been done was to grade us on the number of appearances, not to say they are not part of the team,” said another player.

By Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter


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