THE game’s stakeholders in Zimbabwe are now coming to terms with the gravity of the situation after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) banned all local stadia from hosting international matches.
Initially, Caf revoked the National Sports Stadium and Mandava Stadium’s status as accredited match venues last year leaving Barbourfields Stadium only on the list.
However, on Tuesday more bad news followed as Barbourfields was also banned from staging international matches.
This means all of the national teams in Zimbabwe will have to find alternative venues beyond the borders to play their home games.
Even local clubs are also affected by the ban as they would have to go outside of the country when playing their home games in inter-continental club competitions.
The Caf decision is a big blow for an already cash-strapped Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa).
The Warriors were supposed to host reigning African champions Algeria in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group H qualifier at Barbourfields next month.
Zifa was going to generate considerable amount in revenue as the game has already attract a lot of interest with a capacity crowd expected to attend.
“Stadium authorities were notified of Caf’s position and the urgent nature of the situation at hand. To date, neither of the three stadium authorities has requested us to invite Caf for another inspection, a position which Caf has said led to the decision to bar all three stadiums from hosting international matches,” Zifa said.
“While Zifa is engaging Caf with a view to appeal this decision, we have asked stadium authorities to send us commitment letters detailing timelines on work that needs to be done before Caf comes for another inspection.
Once we receive such commitment, we will send to Caf.”
Reigning Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum find themselves in a spot of bother following the decision as their upcoming 2020-21 African Champions League campaign has been greatly affected.
Pure Platinum Play were at an disadvantage already after Mandava was not granted permission to host Champions League games meaning they had to use Barbourfields.
Now when the qualifiers commence in August, the Zvishavane-based side would have to play at an alternative home venue outside of the country.
“It’s a huge blow there is no doubt about that. But again, it’s a failure over years and it cannot be wholly attributed to current Zifa leadership or the Sports ministry,” FC Platinum chairperson Dumisani Mtombeni told the Daily News.
“However, while National Sports and Barbourfields might have issues, I do not think de-homologation is fair. It’s a harsh decision really. We have played in worse homologated stadia in Africa.
“I am not saying Barbourfields and National Sports are like FNB, Moses Mabidha or Al Ahly Stadium but they can be used and it’s a fact. Barbourfields and National Sports are better than some of the stadia in Guinea, Malawi or Congo which are homologated.
“There is very little we can do though, as a club we will have to meet and then decide, but why would Zimbabwe play outside the country? There is no war or disease outbreak here. Barbourfields and National Sports must be fixed immediately.”
Mtombeni said it is high time that people come together and address the shortcomings.
Popular Warriors’ fan Chris “Romario” Musekiwa is feeling the pain as it will be a tall order for most supporters to travel outside the country to back the team.
“We are very disappointed as fans. I also think Zifa and PSL did not do enough to exert pressure on our councils to act timeously after Caf warned us of an imminent ban. Right now, Rufaro Stadium has been turned into a potatoes market place, someone is benefiting from such shenanigans,” he said.