The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has urged Harare authorities to speed up the renovation process for the National Stadium after being slapped with a US$2,000 fine by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The Harare venue has been undergoing renovations since last year in an effort to bring it up to a higher standard, though it is lagging behind in terms of the installation of bucket seats and electronic turnstiles.
CAF recently asked member associations to submit information in regards to the venues they plan on using for the start of the group phase of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in June, and red flags have been raised with respect to Zimbabwe’s National Stadium.
ZIFA spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela says they have informed Harare authorities about the need to complete the work at the venue as soon as possible in order to meet CAF’s requirements.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association advises all football stakeholders that the Confederation of African Football has fined the association US$2,000 for lack of technical facilities at the National Sports Stadium,” he said in a statement, as quoted by The Herald.
“In their letter of sanction, CAF noted that there are no fixed individual spectator seats in all sectors of the stadium, and general uncleanliness.
“CAF stadium requirements stipulate that seats for spectators must be individual, fixed (e.g. to the floor), separated from one another, shaped, numbered, made of an unbreakable and non-flammable material, and have a backrest of a minimum height of thirty (30) cm when measured from the seat.
“We have notified the Sports and Recreation Commission as the stadium authority, and encouraged them to expedite renovations at the stadium so that we avoid future sanctions or the grim possibility of playing home matches abroad.”
Zimbabwe were allowed temporary approval to hold recent CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers at the venue, but this may not be extended for the World Cup qualifiers unless the standards are met and the work is complete.
The Warriors are in Group G for the World Cup qualifiers and are scheduled to host neighbours South Africa in their opening match from 5th-8th June. Ghana and Ethiopia are the other two teams in the group, which makes it an extremely stern test for Zimbabwe.
Ghana and Ethiopia both secured spots in next year’s AFCON finals as South Africa narrowly missed out. The Bafana Bafana will be keen on making amends as they will strive for qualification in football’s biggest competition.