Zimbabwe may boycott AFCON opener because of pay issues
Zimbabwe may boycott AFCON opener because of pay issues
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Zimbabwe may boycott AFCON opener because of pay issues

The Zimbabwe national side is in the midst of a dispute with their own football association on the eve of their AFCON opener against hosts Egypt due to the non-payment of allowances, according to ESPN. 

Reports emerged in the local press on Thursday that the Warriors had refused to train and were threatening to boycott Friday's opener against the Pharaohs at the Cairo International Stadium if the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) didn't honour an agreement signed in May this year.

"They haven't paid," a member of Zimbabwe's travelling party told ESPN on Thursday, when asked to confirm that some members of the squad had proposed a boycott. "We are still waiting.

"They promised everything [would be paid] tomorrow [Friday] morning."

On Monday, a representative from ZIFA denied the suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of the federation and stated that the players would be paid the outstanding allowances.

"Deliberations were ongoing, but there was never a time when we said we were not talking to each other," ZIFA board member for finance Philemon Machana told ZTN News. "ZIFA has contracts signed by each and every player, so, as far as we are concerned, everyone signed, ZIFA signed.

"From the time they left South Africa, we have not been able to pay, but we have got [to get] the release of the monies to make sure that their allowance from the 8th [when the team's training camp began] up to the 20th, the day before their first match, will get paid."

With that payment still outstanding, the team has been brought into conflict with the federation once again. In 2017, Zimbabwe's preparations for the tournament in Gabon were overshadowed by the players' refusal to board a flight over a dispute over bonuses and allowances, and a payment plan was agreed before this year's tournament in order to avoid a repeat of that issue, but it has reared its ugly head again. 

Friction between players and federations regarding payments ahead of international tournaments is not an unusual occurrence among African teams. Togo's first World Cup campaign was marred by a dispute over bonuses, while Cameroon's participation at the 2014 World showpiece was also jeopardised as the players and federation failed to reach an agreement regarding payment. 

Ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the Nigeria Football Federation and the Super Eagles squad signed an agreement to establish a formal payment structure for the tournament itself, to avoid the distractions that had previously harmed the national side's international campaigns.

We will update this story as it develops as the buildup to AFCON 2019 continues apace.

UPDATE: Zimbabwe FA releases statement over player row

Read more: Key AFCON dates to diarize

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