Less than a year after Fifa splashed $500 000 (about K375 million) Covid-19 grant for the development of women’s football, some major development projects are yet to be implemented.
Fifa announced in October 2020 a $1 million universal solidarity grant and an additional grant of $500 000 allocated specifically to women’s football.
The full amount was made available to all Fifa member associations by January 2021 with clear instructions that it should be used for the growth, protection and restart of women’s football in the wake of the pandemic.
The regulations read in part: “In case of an application for the Women’s Football Grant, the relevant member association, in its application, commits to including the development of a women’s football strategy or the inclusion of a women’s football strategy with relevant details in its strategic plan which forms an essential part of its contract of agreed objectives.
“This includes an undertaking to work with the Fifa general secretariat to implement this commitment. Each member association that applies for the Women’s Football Grant has to subsequently provide Fifa with a report on the use of the Women’s Football Grant and the delivery on respective commitments signed and agreed with Fifa.”
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and National Women’s football Association (NWFA) announced that part of the funding would be used to formulate a strategic plan, introducte a senior national league, youth leagues, build capacity of women’s football administrators and structures, employ women’s national football team coach and women’s football technical director.
However, the funds have mostly been spent on women’s national football teams’ participation in competitions and only K37 million is remaining.
FAM general secretary (GS) Alfred Gunda in response to our questionnaire, gave a breakdown of how the women’s football grant was used, saying K150 million was allocated towards implementation of the development programmes.
Another K150 million was allocated towards Scorchers’ participation in Cosafa Cup, Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
The GS said NWFA was allocated K7.5 million for its operations while K11 250 000 went to three regional women’s football associations, with each pocketing K3 750 000 while 24 women’s football teams shared K56 300 000.
Gunda said: “As of December, the balance for national teams funding was at K37 million after K112 million was spent at the 2020 Cosafa Women’s Senior Championship.
“For the K150 million for women’s football development, some funds were used to cater for food packs for women’s football players, strategic planning sessions and national teams participation in the 2021 Cosafa Women’s Championship, 2022 Afcon Women’s qualifiers and 2022 Under-20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.
“At the moment, the amount has been exhausted largely due to national team engagements. The programmes that have been affected are the developmental and strategic ones.”
He said FAM will now have to source funding for the affected programmes.
Gunda said: “FAM has gone into partnership with Uefa for the strategic planning project with the European football mother body committing some funds for the activity. FAM will now have to look for resources that will cover the developmental programmes that will be initiated by the strategic plan.”
On why FAM diverted the money meant for development purposes to unbudgeted for programmes, FAM Covid-19 Task Force chairperson Chimango Munthali said they acted based on advice from NWFA.
He said: “What I can say is that NWFA was given the freedom to come up with programmes that were in line with the Fifa guidelines. They chose how to use their money. The initial allocations were done by them. They also made the changes. Of course, we had some reservations.”
NWFA chairperson Suzgo Ngwira, who is also FAM executive committee member, refused to comment on why they decided to use the money meant for development programmes for national teams.
Fifa has indicated that it will audit all affiliates twice to ensure compliance of the Covid-19 funds were used.
The world football governing body said in a statement posted on its website recently: “Having reformed its governance and auditing structures in recent years, Fifa is in a strong financial position and, therefore, able to implement the Covid-19 Relief Plan.”