Fifa president Sepp Blatter will pay his first-ever visit to Zimbabwe arriving next week to officiate at the Cosafa Women’s football championships and the ground-breaking ceremony for the Zifa Village, the national association confirmed on Wednesday.
In another growing vote of confidence in the Cuthbert Dube-led administration, Blatter will jet in on July 4 and depart the following morning for the 123rd International Olympic Committee (IOC) session set for Durban in South Africa.
An elated Dube said in an interview with NewsDay Sport on Wednesday: “I met Blatter in South Africa in May where he had a meeting with presidents of associations in the region and had a chance to explain our position to him.
“A week later I travelled to Zurich for the congress and met up with him and the secretary-general Jerome Valcke where I also highlighted some of the progress made in Zimbabwean football after taking over an insolvent organisation last year.
“I put it to them that as a new board we will do everything in our power to promote transparency, accountability and professionalism and they expressed their willingness to support us.
“That is why in our quest to complete the Goal Project Two, they have given us an additional $150 000 over and above the $400 000 meant for the project. Contractors are on site as we speak and we have a target of September to finish it up.
“And to prove that we are transparent, Fifa will pay the contractors direct . . . we won’t handle a cent and through the assistance of Mamelodi (Ashford, Southern Region development officer), we have been assisted to get the project through,” Dube said.
On June 21, Zifa had written to the world football governing body extending their invitation, but that was before the Cosafa championships had been moved from Reunion to Zimbabwe.
On Tuesday, Blatter wrote to Dube personally, accepting the invitation.
“Now that I have returned to Zurich from a trip to the USA and Germany (semi-finals of the Concacaf Gold Cup and the opening ceremony of the Fifa Women’s World Cup Germany 2011), I would like to thank you for your fax dated 21 June 2011.
“I am very pleased to inform you that I will visit your country on Monday July 4 2011 on my way to Durban (13rd IOC Session).
“On this occasion, I will be very happy and very proud to meet the football family and representatives of your government and to visit your Goal Project and perform a ground-breaking ceremony at the site of your technical centre.
“For this trip to Zimbabwe, I will be accompanied by the Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke and other persons of the Fifa secretariat,” wrote Blatter.
He jets in at 0655hrs after which he will hold a press conference at 10am at a local hotel before the official opening of the Rufaro Stadium turf and the ground-breaking ceremony at Zifa Village.
He will then watch one of the matches of the Cosafa Women’s championships before leaving for Durban the following morning.
“This is a huge vote of confidence in this board and I am glad to say our interactions at Cosafa, Caf and Fifa level are bearing fruit and people have seen that we are conducting our affairs in a business manner,” Dube added.
Blatter’s visit comes when head of security at the world governing body Chris Eaton is expected in the country today to “finalise” match-fixing investigations.
The second part of the report has been handed over to Caf and Fifa. Caf acknowledged receipt of the thick volume and offered its support for the investigations in a scandal now known as “Asiagate”.
“Caf has well noted that you completed your investigations and we thank you for your due diligence and willingness to take Zimbabwean football to new heights of excellency and professionalism.
“Caf would like to confirm our full support to your federation to carry out its duties. In the meantime, kindly advise of the current status of the potential sanctions against the persons listed in your report,” wrote Caf secretary-general Hicham El Amrani to Dube on Wednesday morning.
Dube said they were waiting for direction from the Sports and Recreation Commission who are still perusing the document.