FORMER Chipolopolo senior team coach Dario Bonnetti was never liked by the FAZ administration which hurriedly and illegally terminated his contract and the matter has now cost Government over K3 million in compensation, says Sports Minister Vincent Mwale.
Mwale revealed that the Ministry of Finance had already released K3, 289,731.4 to pay Bonnetti after lobbying for special funding to bail out FAZ.
In a ministerial statement to Parliament yesterday, Mwale said in August 2011, FAZ decided to terminate the contract without prior consultations with the Ministry of Sports and the Government only learnt of the development through media reports.
He said minister of Labour Fackson Shamenda summoned FAZ to a meeting considering that they were not consulted about the termination and requested for an updated report.
“FAZ confirmed the termination and cited the following reasons; the coach was hand-picked and was not screened for international experience, despite qualifying the team to the 2012 Africa Cup; the players had complained of Bonnetti’s poor football expertise and that he lacked respect for the FAZ executive, management and technical team,” he said.
Mwale said Shamenda advised FAZ against the termination of the contract and requested Football House to consider reversing the decision.
“FAZ president Kalusha Bwalya strongly indicated that it was not possible to reverse the termination of the contract.
The FAZ president emphasized that the association had acted within the realms of the contract because they felt that the coach had performed poorly.
“FAZ was cautioned by the minister to exercise thoughtfulness and adhere to the provision of labour laws and regulations in its process of dealing with the issue of Bonnetti to avoid getting into legal omission.
‘‘The former minister directed FAZ to handle the separation of Bonnetti in a peaceful and orderly manner,” he said.
He said it was clear that the termination of contract of Bonnetti was not handled properly by FAZ, resulting in the former coach suing the association through FIFA which ruled that he be paid compensation worth US$348,000 (K2.6 million).
He said Government had no funds to pay the newly recruited coach but would meet the cost of terminating Bonnetti’s contract.
Mwale said FAZ in a meeting revealed that they were not in a position to pay Bonnetti and therefore Government had to bail them out.
He said Zambia was given the deadline of January 20, 2014 to pay the former coach, failure to which the country would be subjected to a disciplinary hearing in August. “For the country not to suffer from FIFA sanctions such as not taking part in any competitions, Government on Wednesday released K3, 289,731.4 to pay Bonnetti. Interest accrued since judgment passed on April 4, 2013 is K421, 670,” he said.
Moomba Member of Parliament Vitalis Mooya asked the minister what sort of sanctions had been taken against FAZ.
Mwale said FAZ will have to pay the new coach in 2015 and Government will not take responsibility.
Chongwe (MP) Sylvia Masebo said Government should stop spending huge sums of money on football and concentrate on other disciplines such as volleyball and netball.