THE Government of Zimbabwe has thrown its weight behind Zifa’s bid to host the 2017 African Cup of Nations football finals following the withdrawal of Libya.
Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Andrew Langa told reporters at a news conference yesterday that they had met President Robert Mugabe over the intention to present a bid and he had given them the nod.
One of Zimbabwe’s biggest undoing has been lack of a government guarantee in their previous attempt to host the continental soccer showcase.
They presented a bid to host the 2000 African Cup of Nations and were awarded the rights, but those rights were stripped at the last minute with Caf citing ill preparedness as well as lack of a government guarantee.
Langa said after Libya withdrew from hosting the tournament due to security concerns in that country they saw it as an opportunity to launch a bid.
He added that they had already engaged neighbouring countries in particular Zambia with a view to co-hosting the tournament.
“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,” Langa said.
He also said they had engaged Zambia to co-host the tournament as Zimbabwe did not meet some of the conditions needed to present a bid.
Zambia has, however, already submitted its bid to host the 2019 edition. Negotiations though have begun at government level.
“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 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 organization 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
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 for the right to host the tournament.
The winner of those rights, according to Langa will be known today as the Caf executive committee concludes its meetings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.