Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

Chiyangwa trying to get millage from Zimbabwe stadium ban

by Staff reporter
04 Mar 2020 at 10:35hrs | Views
THE 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier between the Warriors and Algeria is very likely to be staged here in Zimbabwe following the intervention of Cosafa president Philip Chiyangwa.

All of the country's match venues — the National Sports Stadium, Mandava Stadium and Barbourfields — were deemed unfit to host international assignments by the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

As a result, the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) had been forced to find an alternative venue outside the country to host the Warriors and Desert Foxes' clash on March 29.

However, Chiyangwa, a former Zifa president, intervened in his role as Cosafa president and asked his Caf counterpart Ahmad Ahmad to look into the matter.

At the same time, government has also assured Warriors fans they would not need to travel to a foreign country to watch their favourite team play a home game.

"As the Cosafa bloc, me as the president and the actors I work with, our mission is that we cannot have this happening in the Cosafa region," Chiyangwa told the Daily News yesterday.

"It sends a bad signal and sets a bad precedence; this amounts to interfering with the sovereign rights of all the Cosafa nations. As a patriot, a Zanu PF cadre and a legislator, I think I would have lost it if I did not step in. This undermines a lot of things which I stand for as a person.

"That was something that shouldn't have reached this current levels where Caf bans our stadia; it means there is no more football to talk about.

"What is a FA president when you cannot play international football in your own country? What purpose is my regional presidency if my own country is not able to play international football at home?

"I would have lost it; what would the other leaders around me in Cosafa say if I had allowed that to happen? That is how I approached this matter and started talking to the president of Caf and asked him ‘what is this?'"

After Cosafa queried the de-homologation of Zimbabwe's stadia, it has since emerged that the Caf inspection team used stringent requirements when coming up with the decision.

"For instance in the case of Zimbabwe, they used the standards they would normally require for a country that is about to host a big tournament like the Afcon or the Chan," Chiyangwa said.

"The standards for hosting such a huge tournament are not as comprehensive as the standards of just hosting a single international game.

"When we looked at what was required of Zimbabwe, in terms of the various things, we then picked up that Caf had applied a more stringent test model which should only apply when a country is being reviewed for hosting a major tournament."

Chiyangwa is confident that after Cosafa had pointed out the anomaly in Caf's double standards when dealing with Zimbabwe's venues Barbourfields will be passed fit following a second inspection.

"We are already at a point where it is probably 80 percent certain (that the game will be played at Barbourfields); that is what I know," he said.

"The rest is just academic and a fulfilment of what I said would happen. The Caf inspector should be coming here in seven or 10 days' time and I'm sure this time they will use the right criteria."

Meanwhile, acting Sports minister Kazembe Kazembe told journalists during a post-Cabinet briefing work at the National Sports Stadium is currently underway to ensure that the country hosts international matches.

"It is very difficult to give a precise time frame of when all renovations will be completed, but what we are trying to do is to meet the two-week deadline," he said.

"Most of the issues or concerns raised by Caf, we are able to deal with them within the next two weeks. There are only two areas which are difficult to achieve within the set time frame. We are working closely with Caf and having dialogue with them and we hope and trust that they will be kind enough to lift the ban after we have achieved 75 to 85 percent of the issues raised.

"The only two issues that we may not be able to fix within the next couple of weeks, we are expected to have bucket seats because these are the international standards as opposed to the concrete floors we use and we are also supposed to have electronic turnstiles."

The former Dynamos secretary-general also spoke on the progress of renovations at Barbourfields which has a higher probability of hosting the game.

"With regards to the state of Barbourfields, a meeting took place today and I'm yet to get feedback. As you would appreciate it's managed by the Bulawayo City Council but as government we will intervene to ensure that we give them the necessary assistance," Kazembe said.

"From what I gather, the issues raised at Barbourfields are manageable compared to the National Sports Stadium. So whichever stadium is ready, what we are simply trying to do is to ensure that as a country we host that match."

Source - dailynews