with MICHAEL KARIATI THERE is too much talk on Zimbabwean football about Zifa, the restructuring exercise, and the ban from international football but nothing about the stadiums, which are in a state of decay.
Even if Zimbabwean clubs were to take part in the newly launched Africa Super League, those clubs will play their home matches in other countries as Zimbabwe does not have even one stadium good enough for continental club football.
Ironically, Zifa has been and is still trying to persuade Fifa to change its position on Zimbabwe’s international ban when the country does not have a stadium for its own national team to play its home games.
As things stand right now, Zimbabwe is the only country the world over, in whose national stadium or stadiums football fans used to sit or do sit on blocks of cement to watch their own national team in action.
What is making the Zimbabwean stadia situation even tricky is the fact that some of the so-called top stadiums in the country have also been deemed not fit to host Zimbabwe’s own Castle Lager Premier Soccer League matches.
Surprisingly, some of these stadiums — for example Sakubva Stadium — had been earmarked to host the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations finals, which were eventually taken away from Zimbabwe due to stadium concerns.
Worse still is the fact that renovations on these same stadiums were abandoned immediately after Afcon 2000 was taken to Nigeria and Ghana, raising questions as to whether Zimbabwe was and is serious about the state of its stadiums.
Right now, nobody, — it appears —seems to care much about this sorry state of the stadiums with much of the attention being on Zifa and the fight on who should be in control of the national football federation.
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Even those who have been given temporary control of the football federation are more interested in consolidating long-term total power instead of paying even little attention to the playing fields which make things happen.
Not forgetting those at the Sports and Recreation Commission who have also been consumed by the Zifa soap opera to the extent of forgetting their other role of upgrading the National Sports Stadium.
In fact, the SRC has taken the role of the referee in the Zifa boxing ring at a time bucket seats need to be installed at the 60 000 seater National Sports Stadium as per Caf requirement.
What is disturbing is the fact that promises were made long back that the fixed bucket seats would be installed by July, 2020, but that did not happen and Zimbabwe was then barred by Caf from using this stadium.
That, however, is the past as Covid 19 delayed progress but there should be no excuses this time around should the job fail to be completed during this time of the international ban.
It would be embarrassing upon returning to international football after a year or two, to come to terms that Zimbabwe still does not have its own stadium to fulfill international fixtures.
On that premise, it is time that Zifa, the SRC, and the city councils worked together to make sure that the stadiums are 100 percent perfect in the event that eventually Zimbabwe are readmitted back to international football.
Some might argue that stadiums are not a Zifa baby but that of the city councils and the SRC but the fact remains that Zifa are the ones who use the facilities and must play a key role in their renovations.
The fact also remains that the local authorities have the models on what the stadiums should look like but Zifa should also be on the ground to make sure that the right things are being done.
Zimbabwe should not wait until a time when there won’t be a single stadium to host even PSL matches to realize the importance of up to standard playing fields.
The Fifa ban has provided the chance to upgrade our stadiums to international standards and now is the time to do it rather than wait for later.
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