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Barcelona coming to Zimbabwe

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Zimbabweans may once again be dished a five-star soccer cuisine after it emerged plans are afoot to bring Spanish and European champions Barcelona to the country.

The Catalan side will become the second high-profile team to visit Zimbabwe after former World Cup winners Brazil who came to here in June last year.

Details of the Barcelona trip are still under wraps, but impeccable sources have informed NewsDay a deal is in the pipeline although it is still in the formative stages while South American giants Argentina and Ghana are also poised to visit Zimbabwe.

The Ghana deal is “wrapped” while negotiations for the Argentina match “are at an advanced stage”.

Ghana were supposed to have stopped over in the country in the run-up to last year’s World Cup in South Africa, but the deal hit a brickwall after Zifa distanced themselves from the West Africans’ trip. There has to be a football-to-football agreement before any team plays the national soccer team.

“We have the papers in our office, but there are sticking points that need to be ironed out first. We have learnt from the problems that encountered certain parties when Brazil came to the country.

“You are aware that Zifa is facing a lawsuit from Kentaro, a firm that facilitated the coming of Brazil. We don’t want to repeat that. We want to talk to Zifa first so that we speak with one voice over the Barcelona trip,” said the source.

Details about which team the Spanish giants would play are still exclusively with the organisers, but NewsDay can reveal that paperwork is already on the table awaiting signatures once the parties agree. What remains to be tied together are logistical issues before the official announcement.

If the La Liga champions manage to come, local fans will have the chance to watch some of the world’s best players such as striker Lionel Messi, midfielder Xavi Hernandez and Brazilian defender Dani Alves for the second time. Alves was part of the Brazil team that beat Zimbabwe 3-0 at the National Sports Stadium.

The South American side were at that time preparing for the 2010 World Cup which was hosted for the first time on African soil by South Africa.

But the former World Champions’ trip to Harare did not go without controversy as a legal wrangle erupted between Zifa and Kentaro over $650 000 from gate-takings the latter is claiming they are owed by the domestic football governing body. Kentaro are currently suing Zifa in a Swiss court.

But away from the controversy, local soccer fans will be in for a treat if Barcelona’s trip is successful.

Zimbabwe has been beset by a decade of economic collapse, political turmoil, including violence and isolation while the tourism industry had virtually collapsed.

The arrival of Barcelona would be a major boost for Zimbabwe and the tourism sector.

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