Sport needs to bargain more

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Ishemunyoro Chingwere
There is something irresistibly alluring in sport for several companies that has seen them all wanting to be associated with the different types of sport.

Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed companies and several others, have in one way or the other have had a flirtation with sport be it at professional, national, junior or amateur level.

Clearly, sport brings with it a level of social licence and acceptance for companies which most firms need to get good standing in communities they operate in so as to concentrate on their core business without the threat of community or social rejection.

Big corporates among them Delta Beverages (Castle Lager Premier Soccer League), Econet Wireless (Econet Golf Cup), Zimplats (Ngezi Platinum Stars FC), CBZ (Motorcross), Cottco (Rugby), Dairiboard (Rugby), Hippo Valley (Triangle FC) and several others have previously had a dance or are in sport sponsorship.

While corporates are the life blood of sport with the financial rewards that they bring, sport is also very important to corporates to an extent that businesses will struggle to get “social licences” to operate with without sport.

It is against this background that sports associations, possibly working with the Sports and Recreation Commission should work a framework of structures that will see sports benefiting considerably from its association with corporates.

Reports earlier this week were that the national Korfball team players were paid $1 each after their heroics which show them qualifying for the World Cup to be held in Durban, South Africa.

The senior women’s football team has also made headlines after being “rewarded” pittance after international heroics. Just last month the team made lightweight of a challenge from Namibia in an Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers with a 4-0 aggregate win only for players to get just $5 at the end of it from the national football governing board, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).

Zifa communications and competitions manager, Xolisani Gwesela, at the time frantically tried to gloss the fallout that ensued after the $5 payments saying it was not for players’ allowances but rather reimbursement for transport fees.

“I would like to clarify on the issue of $5, it was not their allowances for playing. It’s transport reimbursements. Across ZIFA we have rates which we use, which even councillors, employees and players are paid, so $5 is local allowance for Harare-based players.

“And, it depends, if you are staying outside Harare (it’s) $15 or more. So $5 is not allowances for their participation in the first round of the Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifiers.

“Yes, we owe them outstanding allowances. Our accounts department is seized with this matter and these amounts will be paid, not in cash, because we all know what is obtaining in our economy, we don’t have cash,” Gwesela told our sister paper The Herald at the time.
Whatever the explanation for this particular case, reality is local sports associations have almost always struggled with players’ remuneration despite the corporate pull of the sport that they superintend.

In simple terms, sports associations — in terms of budgetary allocations, are getting an insignificant share of the amounts that the corporates they are dealing with are handling.
This is however, exactly the opposite of what is obtaining in the first world where sports and sports personalities know their real value and worth which has seen them earning way more than executives running multinational companies.

According to Forbes, athletes are clocking the $1 billion mark from sporting careers among them basketball legend Michael Jordan ($1,5 billion) and golfer Tiger Woods ($1,4 billion).
Boxing star Floyd Mayweather, who pocketed a cool $250 million for his fight against Manny Pacquiao fight is also not very far from that billion dollar club.

Tennis star, Roger Federer, retired American basketball player Shaquille O’Neal, and football sensation and Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo are all reportedly worth over $400 million while locally sports stars struggle to put a meal on the table.

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