'Local stadia in bad state'

HARARE - A lot of work needs to be done in order for Zimbabwe’s stadia to be ready in time for the August-May football season which is to be implemented next year, according to the First Instances Body (Fib).

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) has realigned all its major tournaments — the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon), Champions League and the second-tier Confederation Cup — to be held between September and May.

As a result, all Caf member associations, which Zimbabwe is part of, have been advised to follow suit.

Earlier this week, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) held an emergency meeting where this issue was deliberated. The PSL governors agreed to follow suit and immediately wrote to notify the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) their intentions of staging the season between August and May starting with the 2019-2020 season.

However, in 1999, the PSL tried to adopt this August-May calendar and it was a dismal failure due to the country’s poor infrastructure.

Most venues had poor drainage systems thereby forcing matches to be called off when it rained heavily.

Fans were also put off from attending matches as there are no proper stands to shield them from the rain. 

Almost 20 years later, it seems nothing has changed much with Fib still alluding to these same problems.

Fib is the statutory Zifa body which is tasked with inspecting and certifying football infrastructure before football matches can be staged.

“There are ongoing consultations with all our football stakeholders,” Fib spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela told the Daily News.

“Once we have consulted with our stakeholders then we will move into the implementation stage. It’s not only the PSL calendar that has to be aligned to the Caf calendar but all the Zifa competitions must also follow suit. That means from Division One straight down to the Division Three and the Area Zones as well.    

“From our previous inspections before the current season started, we noted that most stadia around the country are in bad state. We implore municipalities and stadia owners to move with speed in terms of improving their infrastructure so that it meets the required standards.”

At the start of the current Castle Lager Premiership season, Fib condemned the use of Sakubva Stadium forcing promoted side Mutare City Rovers to stage their home games at Vhengere Stadium in Rusape.

Vhengere has also come under the spotlight with most clubs complaining of an uneven and dangerous playing surface.

Nyamhunga Stadium was also certified unfit to host PSL matches before ZPC Kariba made the necessary renovations recommended by Fib.

Gwesela said all these issues to do with poor facilities could have been avoided if the clubs embrace club licensing.

“The only good thing is that between now and next August, the clubs and stadia owners have plenty of time to address the issues we raised during our inspections,” he said.

“We received communication from Caf last year regarding this matter and that’s why we are having consultations with all relevant stakeholders.

“Since 2008, we have been preaching a lot about club licensing and most of the things can be addressed.

“Club licensing was never meant to punish clubs but it would benefit them in the long run.”

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