Zimbabwe’s Warriors have been dealt a massive blow after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned the use of all the country’s stadiums, citing they do not meet its standards.
The move means Zimbabwe will not be able to host any international matches on home soil and may have to rely on neighbouring countries.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) confirmed that no local stadium met minimum standards to host CAF competitions.
“We would like to inform the football fraternity and the nation that we have received correspondence from CAF that our stadiums do not meet its standards to host international matches. Consequently, CAF has made a decision to bar ZIFA from using local stadiums in all upcoming international matches,” read the statement.
CAF undertook the initial inspection in November 2019 and ruled out the National Sports Stadium in Harare, Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane and provisionally approved Barbourfields Stadium.
“While Mandava and NSS were completely struck off the roster, Barbourfields was provisionally certified on the condition that issues raised in the inspection report would be addressed. Stadium authorities were notified of CAF’s position and the urgent nature of the situation at hand. To date, neither of the three stadium authorities has requested us to invite CAF for another inspection, a position which CAF has said led to the decision to bar all three stadiums from hosting international matches,” further read the statement.
ZIFA said it was engaging CAF with a view to appeal this decision.
“We have asked stadium authorities to send us commitment letters detailing timelines on work that needs to be done before CAF comes for another inspection. Once we receive such commitment, we will send to CAF.”
However, ZIFA is running against time with Zimbabwe’s 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier set for 23 March.
Should ZIFA fail to convince CAF, the game will have to be hosted outside Zimbabwe – either in Zambia or South Africa.
“We have also started the process of looking for an alternative venue in neighbouring countries to host our upcoming matches.”
By Mthokozisi Dube