Zifa Chief Exposed!

Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
ZIFA appear to have blown their chances of landing a long-term deal with Umbro amid signals from the British sportswear firm that their relationship has been strained by reckless media statements made by the association’s chief executive, Jonathan Mashingaidze, this week.
Mashingaidze told the Chronicle that Zifa will investigate the sale of replica Umbro jerseys, used by the Warriors at the 2014 CHAN finals, insisting that the association did not sign any deal with the company for such a sale to be conducted.

The Zifa chief executive, who has a history of making monumental blunders, suggested that his association could have been prejudiced of hundreds of thousands of rands from the illegal sale of replica Umbro jerseys in South Africa.

However, The Saturday Herald can reveal today that Mashingaidze’s media statements were not only unfounded but bordered on lying, to derive a certain agenda, because documents show that Zifa were not only aware of the sale of the replica jerseys but even tried to be part of the process to sell the jerseys.

These revelations are yet another indictment not only the character of Mashingaidze but also his questionable professional conduct in selling the country a dummy, with a media statement full of falsehoods, just to try and soli the image of Warriors’ coach Ian Gorowa, when he knew pretty well that his office was fully aware of the Umbro deal and sale of replicas.

Mashingaidze has been trying to hit back at Gorowa after the national coach labeled him a “habitual liar.”
Yesterday, Umbro director of sales and marketing, Donovan Bell, wrote to Gorowa, in the wake of the report published in the Chronicle, expressing his company’s disappointment over the developments that are certainly to destroy the relationship with Zifa in its infancy.

“I am quite disheartened by the article I read in the online press this morning. It seems to indicate that Umbro has done something wrong. I attach two letters where it is clearly communicated to Zifa that we are only making a limited number of replicas to test the market during CHAN,” Bell said in his email.

“Reference to someone making ‘hundreds of thousands’ is quite misplaced as the total sale of 500 units would only amount to R125 000.
“There could be a few units remaining in the market amongst some retailers who bought same to test their markets, however, we have no control over this.”

Crucially, Bell questioned the integrity of those, at Zifa House, who were now questioning the Umbro deal.
“I noted the comments of Zifa that they are going against what was agreed between us, in the presence of Jonathan (Mashingaidze Zifa chief executive), Wellington (Mugwagwa, Zifa marketing manager) and your good self,” Bell said in his email.

“The reference made that the technical team brokered the deal, is misleading, as I have received an official letter from Zifa agreeing to the short-term partnership. This reference from Jonathan in the media makes uncomfortable reading.

“My last email made reference to the fact that we want to form a longer term partnership, however, to date nothing is forthcoming from Zifa at all. Whilst we did enjoy some exposure, we were hoping to secure a longer term deal and to walk with Zifa over the next few years building the brand together.”

Jonathan Mashingaidze
But did Zifa sign the deal, something that Mashingaidze appears to dispute in his remarks in the Chronicle, and was the association aware of the issue of replicas, something that the chief executive dismisses?

On December 11 last year, Mashingaidze wrote to Bell and advised him that the deal had been sealed.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association hereby confirms that the Zimbabwe Senior Men’s Team shall be kitted by Umbro before and during the 2014 CHAN Tournament,” Mashingaidze wrote.

“The arrangements shall be reviewed after the 2014 CHAN Tournament.
“Please kindly favour us with the product range for the equipment which Umbro shall provide to the Senior National Men’s Team.”

A day before the confirmation of the deal, Zifa marketing manager Mugwagwa wrote to Bell and, for the first time, not only discussed the issue of replicas but their sale and where the money would go.

“Thank you for the technical sponsorship meeting,” Mugwagwa wrote. “Please note that Zimbabwe Football supporters will be happy to get replica jerseys as soon as possible.

“Give me qoutation of 100, 200 and 300 replica jerseys. Include your banking details. If you have merchandise besides replica jerseys please let me know.”

In January this year, after Zifa had asked Umbro to provide replica jerseys for Sport, Arts and Culture Minister, Andrew Langa and his delegation, Bell wrote to Mashingaidze saying:

“We will be happy to supply the Sports Minister with apparel. Please supply his sizes so we may facilitate same. His staff at this time we can’t dress as we have made a substantial investment into the team already.”
On January 15 this year, Mugwagwa once again wrote to Bell.

“Please update me on replica jerseys. Where can we find them in South Africa. Most Zimbabwe supporters want to buy them. If possible email the names of shops in Cape Town, Jo’burg and the rest of South Africa.

“We also have supporters here in Zimbabwe who need replica jerseys. Are you able to supply Zifa with 100 replica jerseys as soon as you can.
“I propose you send them and once we sell them then we deposit money in your account.”
On the same day Bell replied to Mugwagwa.

“We have been selling the replica at all Sneakers International Stores across SA, especially at the airports. The replica are also available in our three stores, Montague Gardens, Mitchells Plain and JHB Central,” wrote Bell.

“Regarding replica for Zifa/Local supply; we currently have no stock to send as the demand is strong here in Cape Town and we are confident that we will sell them, especially if the team does well.

“Remember we only made 500 units to test the market. Hopefully, we are able to conclude a longer term deal and then we will be able to incorporate the requirements of Zifa into that production.

“Good luck for the game this afternoon.”
On January 31, Mugwagwa wrote another letter to Bell.

“Our team is doing well and supporters here want the replica jerseys. May you give Mr Gorowa 100 replica jerseys. We can’t take the money from supporters before we have the jerseys,” said Mugwagwa.

Once again, Bell replied.
“Today is bitter sweet for us here at Umbro; the coach and his team did so well in the tournament and now they will no longer be here in Cape Town,” said Bell.

“Regarding the matter of the replica; it is safe to say we have sold all the replica we made for the TNT (tournament) and as such can’t send any to your good selves.

“We have an audacious plan to present the supporters in Zimbabwe with replica but we really need to sign a long-term contract.
“I will speak with Ian as to his requirements going forward and hopefully we can remain assisting him. Will await official feedback from Zifa (on) the possibilities of a long-term contract.

“Well done again to Ian and his team of Warriors, they did the nation proud.”
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