PSL, Zifa to blame for stadia crisis

PSL and ZIFA have let football and the nation down.

LOCAL football is currently facing its worst stadium crisis since independence against the backdrop of a Fifa ban early last year.

At the moment, there is no single stadium in Harare which is fit to host premier league matches and the six topflight teams from the capital have sought home grounds elsewhere.

Giants Dynamos and Caps United have opted to adopt Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo as their new home, while Black Rhinos are based in Gweru, Herentals are now using Mandava in Zvishavane while Yadah FC and Cranborne Bullets will be using Baobab (Mhondoro) and Nyamhunga (Kariba) stadiums, respectively.

Newcomers Simba Bhora from Shamva and Chisumbanje Green Fuel have adopted Baobab and Gibbo (Triangle) stadiums in that order with Manica Diamonds also utilising Gibbo while their actual home, Sakubva Stadium is yet to be homologated.

The situation for Harare teams has been worsened by the fact the National Sports Stadium is currently undergoing maintenance work while the turf needs to be rehabilitated due to overuse. Rufaro Stadium has not hosted any topflight league matches since 2019 with renovations moving at a snail’s pace.

It is surprising that the Premier Soccer League and the Zifa First Instance Body, which homologate local stadia, have insisted on grounds meeting Caf standards when our football is not recognised on the international stage at the moment.

We feel PSL should have allowed teams to use preferred stadiums as a way of spreading the game while clubs work on renovations.

Given the crisis Simba Bhora and Green Fuel which used to play in their own stadia in Division One should be allowed to utilise these facilities for PSL matches.

Why are stadium standards for premier league and division one different, we wonder?

If standards were the same, it would have certainly helped teams like Simba Bhora and Green Fuel to cash in on their huge support base and raise funds to rehabilitate their home grounds.

Where are PSL and Zifa in all this? We expect them to assist clubs with funds to spruce up the stadiums. These two organisations have let football and the nation down.

Local football authorities have failed football as they have been found wanting when it comes to keeping stadia under their watch up to speed.

Until last week when Nyamhunga was homologated, ZPC Kariba were playing their matches in Harare but the same stadium was hosting league matches last season.

Sakubva and Vhengere Stadium in Rusape require minor touch-ups to meet standards, hence they should have been approved to host PSL matches.

Harare has seven stadia namely Gwanzura, Dzivarasekwa, Lafarge, Morris Depot, One Commando, Rufaro and the National Sports Stadium which are all deemed ineligible to host matches.

In our view, Harare teams should have been allowed to use some of the grounds while improving them to bring football closer to the fans. 

PSL president Farai Jere is on record saying lowering stadium homologation standards is no option. We believe he said this without taking into account the cost of playing away from home and the effect it has on sponsors and players.

Football can only grow when teams play in front of their fans. That fans are the bedrock of soccer is undisputable, hence the need to expeditiously attend to our stadia.

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