WHILE the euphoria gripped local soccer enthusiasts, players and other stakeholders as the Premier Soccer League (PSL) action returns this weekend after more than a year due to COVID-19-induced bans, there is confusion over player contracts.

The confusion stems from the confusion among football leaders regarding players who signed contracts in 2020 when no football was taking place after the government suspended mass gatherings to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Several players saw their one-year contracts expire without kicking the ball for their respective clubs. Most of the players signed new contracts with other clubs, which has led to controversy over compensation issues as their former clubs demanded payment for looking after the players despite not kicking the ball during that time.

Zifa has ordered that the contracts for the players whose contracts expired last year should be renewed. The soccer mom argued that this was in line with Fifa guidelines.

PSL also decided at its annual general meeting last month to extend contracts. Despite the agreement to renew contracts, the league management has recommended that the clubs that have signed the affected players register them before the start of the games until the issues of ownership and compensation have been resolved.

However, this resolution has created more confusion. For example, who should compensate the clubs that took care of the players in question? Is it Zifa or the club that took the player on board? Who will pay compensation, how much should be paid in compensation? Should the club pay compensation equal to the registration fee or the salary the player earned at his previous club? None of these questions were addressed at PSL Indaba last month. It is therefore not surprising that the same questions keep cropping up and there is currently no clarity on the way forward, especially given the fact that football will resume over the weekend.

The decision to extend the contracts is also heavily contested by the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ). Labor expert Ndumiso Sibanda also speaks out against a contract extension. Citing a case by the Supreme Court of Kundai Magodora and others v Care International (SC 191/13), he argues that an employment contract is governed by the Labor Code and that the players have signed fixed-term contracts with a start and end date, the principle is that As soon as two parties have concluded a contract, no one except the two parties can change this contract.

Caps United, Dynamos, Harare City and Highlanders are among several clubs that signed players in preparation for the 2020 season before the football campaign was halted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and are now demanding compensation for the players they were killed have taken care of themselves during this long hiatus.

Some clubs like Highlanders are not demanding compensation, which in turn raises questions about what exactly has been agreed at PSL Indaba regarding the issuance of player contracts.

If this matter is not resolved urgently, it can damage the image not only of PSL but of the football game as a whole.

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