ZIMBABWE wants to host the Africa Cup of Nations finals in 2017 – three years from now and needs a government guarantee and proper infrastructure in order to win over the Confederation of African Football (Caf).
A government guarantee is a prerequisite. Bid submissions close on September 30, after which Caf will name the hosts next April.
Zimbabwe had bid to host the 2000 finals, but failed to get a government guarantee and the games were moved to West Africa, much to the detriment of the Southern Region.
This time around, Sport, Arts and Culture minister Andrew Langa and Tourism minister Walter Mzembi are nudging Zifa to form a partnership with the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to co-host the games, although our northern neighbours have set themselves a target of 2019 as they are taking their time to develop infrastructure.
Zambia will know today if they have won the right to host the 2019 finals as the Caf executive committee decides in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
They have two new stadiums —Levy Mwanawasa in Ndola and the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, which was opened two weeks ago.
And with the way they are progressing, two more stadiums should be completed by end of 2017, one in Livingstone near Victoria Falls.
Each stadium has a capacity of 45 000 or more.
2015 Afcon finals hosts Morocco have four stadiums ready, in four different cities. The Moullay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat carries 52 000, Marrakesh has a capacity of 45 240, Tangier is at 45 000 and Agadir will accommodate 45 480 fans.
From East Africa Kenya-the biggest economy in East Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda have declared interest.
Rwanda, according to reports, has an edge over Zimbabwe with a track record of hosting the 2009 African Youth Championships as well as the 2011 African Under-17 Championship. The 2016 Africa Nations Championships (Chan) will also take place in Rwanda.
Zimbabwe has few stadiums that meet international standards and hosting such an event means we could actually speed up the construction of new stadiums in other cities like Mutare and Gweru, in addition to accommodation.
Hosting an event of such magnitude is beneficial in employment creation and building of new stadiums and hotels and its really part of the reason why Caf awards some countries the finals-to develop their infrastructure.
And we will do ourselves no good if we concentrate on Harare and Bulawayo when other cities like Gweru, Mutare, Zvishavane and Victoria Falls are in need of such infrastructure.
Football is a national sport, a potential big employment creator, played almost throughout the year and is one sport that politicians like to use to get to the masses.
Remember the interest from Media, Information and Broadcasting Services minister Jonathan Moyo in the outcome of the March 29 Zifa elections? This is why Mzembi is also interested, from both a tourism point of view and political mileage.
Right now, Harare has the National Sports Stadium and Rufaro, whose artificial turf has to be ripped out. Then we have Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo and Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane although here, accommodation is a big problem.
So it deserves better, but do we have money to host 16 nations? Is this not going to put a strain on a government that is struggling to pay civil servants? Will it create employment and awaken industry in general?
Massive refurbishment of pot-holed roads, efficient transport, water and electricity supplies and decongesting the capital city has to be done within the next three years. Bulawayo, with spacious roads, is better off, but electricity is a challenge in the entire country.
This time around, Zimbabwe has started off well with a nod from President Robert Mugabe to launch a bid, meaning a government guarantee is in place.
Langa told a Press conference on Thursday: “We met his Excellency President Robert Mugabe and he gave us the nod. We saw it desirous to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations following the withdrawal of Libya to host the tournament on account of security concerns. Libya who have been an all-weather friend of Zimbabwe could be engaged by Zimbabwe to maintain and retain their tournament presence by financially and materially endorsing and supporting Zimbabwe’s bid to replace them and that engagement can be done at government as well as football levels.
“We are still waiting for the outcome from Zambia. If they win the right to host the 2019 edition then we will engage other neighbouring countries like Mozambique. Zambia and Zimbabwe share a lot in terms of the history of the Bantu people who are found on both sides of the Zambezi river. To crown it all the two southern African countries co-hosted the best ever UNWTO [United Nations World Tourism Organisation] Conference in 2013 and the two countries need to exploit the legacy projects arising from co-hosting the UNWTO.
“Zimbabwe would have preferred to go it alone, but we find ourselves hamstrung by the Confederation of African Football (Caf)’s Article 32 of the Statutes governing the application which requires that:
Any member association proposing its country for the organisation of the African Cup of Nations must have organised the final tournament of at least one of the following competitions:
a) The 2000 African Nations Championships (CHAN)
b) The Under-20 African Championships
c) The Under -17 African Championships
d) The African Women Football Championships
e) The Under-23 African Championships
Zimbabwe has previously submitted bids without success, for the following Continental and other championships:
a) The African Cup of Nations — which was awarded at the eleventh hour to Ghana and Nigeria
b) The 2010 African Cup of Nations — which was won by Angola.
c) The 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup which was won by Canada.
“Zimbabwe’s bids were seriously weakened as we did not have the required letters of guarantee from the head of state,” said Langa.
Zambia will be battling it out against countries like Algeria, Cameroon, Gabon and Cote D’Ivoire.
National Sports Stadium
Capacity — 60 000
Media Centre — needs major improvements and working Internet services, 24 hours a day.
Capacity — 35 000
Training venues in Harare-Gwanzura Stadium,
The artificial turf has to be removed first before a Caf Inspection team arrives in the country, properly designated parking and 24-hour Internet services are a must, in addition to a proper media centre.
Accommodation: Meikles, Crowne Plaza, Rainbow Towers, Cresta Oasis, Cresta Lodge, Holiday Inn
Barbourfields Stadium, Bulawayo
Capacity —30 000
Undergoing renovations for the African Union Region Five Games that will be staged in December. Previous official capacity, according to Bulawayo City Council figures, was 26 000. It was last renovated for the All-Africa Games in 1995.
Two more dressing rooms are being built to make it four. The media centre needs proper Internet facilities and furniture
Training venues in Bulawayo —White City and Luveve Stadium, new dressing rooms are under construction. Luveve, which will also have new dressing rooms, has a capacity of 10 000 while White City cannot host an international match.
Accommodation: Holiday Inn, Cresta Churchill, Bulawayo Rainbow, Nesbitt Castle
Mandava Stadium, Zvishavane
Capacity: 15 000
Media Centre is fine, but needs Internet services that are fully operational and adequate parking space outside the venue. One part of the stadium just needs to be integrated into the rest of the venue and can take an extra 5 000 fans, bringing the total to 20 000.
Accommodation: Pote Hill Lodge, not enough. A four-star or three-star hotel is needed there. Is three years enough to build a new hotel? Zvishavane, because of Mimosa and Unki platinum mines, is the fastest growing town in Zimbabwe
Gweru-Ascot Stadium — No VIP, no Internet, no media centre, no parking, no accommodation, bumpy pitch
Mutare-Sakubva Stadium — No VIP, no Internet, no media centre, no parking, uneven pitch.
Accommodation: African Sun Amber Hotel (formerly Holiday Inn), Golden Peacock.
Zambia use Victoria Falls ‘bait’ in Afcon bid
ADDIS ABABA — Matches played against a backdrop of the spectacular Victoria Falls waterfall is part of the package Zambia are offering to stage the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Ivory Coast also want to host the 2019 tournament and Algeria, Guinea and Ivory Coast are contenders for the 2021 championship.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee led by President Issa Hayatou from Cameroon will vote today in Ethiopia to decide the two hosts.
Each of the 14 members has one vote and the first country to receive at least eight votes wins.
Should several rounds be necessary, the country with the fewest votes after each round drops out.
The two winning nations are to be announced during a ceremony at the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa.
Zambia proposed six venues including Livingstone, a town that overlooks the Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone in the mid-19th century is believed to have been the first European to see the Falls on the Zambezi River, which divides Zambia and Zimbabwe.
A ground beside the Falls would challenge Cape Town Stadium, a 2010 World Cup venue lying in the shadow of Table Mountain, as the African football venue with the most spectacular backdrop.
Another boost for the Zambian bid was the recent opening of a Chinese-built 50 000-seat National Heroes Stadium in capital Lusaka.
Zambia have proposed six venues for a tournament needing a minimum of four, Cameroon five and Algeria, Guinea and Ivory Coast four each.
Five candidates to host Africa Cup
Bids: 2019 or 2021
Proposed venues: Algiers, Annaba, Blida, Oran
Showpiece stadium: Stade 5 Juillet, Algiers (capacity: 70 000)
Bid: 2019 only
Proposed venues: Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua, Limbe-Buea, Yaounde
Showpiece stadium: Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde (38 000)
Bids: 2019 or 2021
Hosts: Never staged Cup of Nations
Proposed venues: Conakry, Kankan, Labe, Nzerekore
Showpiece stadium: Stade Nongo, Conakry (50 000)
Bids: 2019 or 2021
Proposed venues: Abidjan, Bouake, Korhogo, San Pedro
Showpiece stadium: Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan (45,000)
Bid: 2019 only
Hosts: Awarded 1988 tournament only to withdraw for financial reasons
Proposed venues: Chililabombwe, Chingola, Kitwe, Livingstone, Lusaka, Ndola
Showpiece stadium: National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka (50 000)
Note: Democratic Republic of Congo withdrew as 2019 candidates
without giving an explanation — Supersport