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BCC, Zifa scramble to get BF ban lifted

by Staff reporter
27 Feb 2020 at 05:53hrs | Views
ZIFA and Bulawayo City Council officials held a four-hour meeting in Bulawayo yesterday in the aftermath of the surprise ban of Barbourfields Stadium to host international matches by Caf.

Zifa was represented by board member Bryton Malandule, First Instance Body (FIB) chairman Piraishe Mabhena and communications and competitions manager Xolisani Gwesela, while the director of housing and community services Dictor Khumalo represented BCC.

The continental football governing body dropped the bombshell on Tuesday just a month before the stadium was due to host a Caf Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between the Warriors and Algeria.

The crunch tie had been moved to Bulawayo after a Caf grounds inspection team stated in November last year that the National Sports Stadium falls short of standards to host international matches.

Barbourfields Stadium only just met the minimum requirements, but Caf reversed its provisional approval of the venue on Tuesday, meaning all national teams have to play home games outside the country.

Gwesela expressed hope that the ban could be reversed following yesterday's meeting with BCC.

"We are delighted by the commitment and maximum cooperation from the City of Bulawayo. They presented to the meeting areas which they are committed to addressing in the immediate future and those that can be long term projects like the structural and architectural things. Their commitment has given us hope that this decision might be reversed, but we need a letter of that commitment from them. However, I must hasten to say that this is no longer a Zifa or City of Bulawayo baby, but every patriotic Zimbabwean, including central government," said Gwesela.

Khumalo would not shed more light besides confirming meeting the Zifa officials.

"We were sharing notes on how best we can get this whole thing reversed and as the City of Bulawayo.  We promised to give them that letter of assurance by end of day today (yesterday)," said Khumalo.

Should Caf lift the ban, BCC and Zifa will have less than a month to address urgent enhancements in time for the Afcon clash against Algeria.  

Whilst the local football fraternity is still baffled how Caf reached the drastic decision without a follow-up inspection, it has now emerged that the continental football body acted on an adverse report compiled by a visiting Algerian advance party that reportedly complained about the size of Barbourfields Stadium's dressing rooms.

A three-man Algerian delegation that included the North Africans' deputy ambassador to Zimbabwe as well as the team doctor toured the city's accommodation facilities, training pitch and food shops last week.

They also visited Barbourfields Stadium, which was the designated venue for the Afcon qualifier until Tuesday afternoon's announcement.

"Those guys claimed Barbourfields Stadium's dressing rooms were too small for their technical team and presented that and other complaints to Caf, which hastily acted on the Algerians' report by effecting a ban on the use of Barbourfields Stadium, yet there was never an official follow-up inspection of the stadium," said a senior BCC official.

Zifa yesterday distanced itself from the Algerians' tour of Barbourfields Stadium and admitted to only facilitating the Desert Foxes' advance party's visit to the city.

"Maybe the city council would know how they (Algerians) got into Barbourfields Stadium," said Gwesela.

However, Chronicle Sport has it on good authority that Zifa chief executive officer Joseph Mamutse okayed the North Africans' visit to Barbourfields Stadium. He personally phoned Zifa Southern Region board member Tizirayi Luphahla and gave him the Algerians' itinerary.

Gwesela also dismissed claim that Zifa diverted funds from Caf meant for improvements to areas of concern at the NSS and Barbourfields Stadium.

"Such funds are public and their use is always audited, so such unfounded utterances must and will be ignored," he said.

Source - chronicle