The decision by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to hike gate charges ahead of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifier match against Liberia at the National Sports Stadium on September 4 cannot go unchallenged.
While it was noble for the association to move the match from Rufaro Stadium for security concerns, the same cannot be said for the football governing body on the proposed charges.
It was no surprise when forgotten organisation, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) decided to come out with guns blazing for the first time in the football arena. CCZ challenged Zifa to review the exorbitant charges downwards.
Zifa are charging $100 for entry into the VVIP section while those who want to watch the crucial match in Bays 15 to 18 should be prepared to part with amounts between $20 and $50. Zifa have pegged the rest of ground at $5.
Herein lies the problem.
Football is supposed to be a family sport and traditionally appeals to the downtrodden in society. That is why legend Pele called it a “beautiful game”.
For an average person in the street, $5 is not only prohibitive, but the fact the match is being played at the National Sports Stadium plays havoc with pockets of ordinary people.
National Sports Stadium is not located in central Harare and fans have to dish out more on transport especially those who don’t reside in surrounding areas like Warren Park, Kambuzuma and Kuwadzana.
CCZ national chairman Philip Bvumbe said: “As Consumer Council of Zimbabwe we are saying there is no justification on profiteering on just one game.
The charges must remain as they were before so that people can watch the game. People must be mindful that the economy is on a recovery and transformation stage and where will people get that kind of money?”
It would appear the CCZ are indeed correct. There is absolutely no need for bankrupt Zifa to use just one match to recover from their financial quagmire.
In fact there is a high possibility that Zifa will instead scare away fans who will prefer to watch the match in the comfort of their homes than fork out $5.
Zifa should maximise their earnings on television rights and touchline advertisement rather than squeezing out the already strained soccer fans.
The football governing body should also be mindful of the fact that there will also be travelling fans from around the country and high gate charges will discourage those who want to support their national team.
They should revert back to the $3 for the rest of ground.