By Robson Sharuko
The Confederation of African Football have banned all the stadiums in Zimbabwe from hosting international football matches.
This means the Warriors will have to play their next 2021 AFCON qualifier against Algeria, at the end of next month, on neutral soil for the first time in the team’s history.
ZIFA confirmed yesterday that CAF have also extended the ban on Barbourfields, which had provisionally been cleared to host international matches, during an inspection held last year.
‘’The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) would like to inform the football fraternity and the nation that it has received correspondence from the Confederation of African Football that our stadiums do not meet Confederation of African Football (CAF) standards to host international matches,’’ the association’s spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said in a statement.
“Consequently, CAF has made a decision to bar ZIFA from using local stadiums in all upcoming international matches.
“The decision by CAF comes against the background of a CAF stadium inspection which was conducted in November 2019 and the subsequent inspection report circulated on the 1st of December which stipulated areas of improvement for our three stadiums, Barbourfields, Mandava and the National Sports Stadium (NSS), to be fully homologated.
‘”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.
“While ZIFA is 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.
“In this moment we urge all stakeholders to work for a common cause for us to quickly right this wrong which takes away our sovereignty. We have been using stadiums which do not meet CAF and FIFA standards for a while now, but we need to put our heads together as a country to ensure that our stadiums are renovated to meet required standards.
“We unreservedly apologise to all football stakeholders for inconveniences that the decision has brought.
“We are hopeful that everyone who has influence to expedite the process of bringing our teams back home will do their part.
“Meanwhile, we have also started the process of looking for an alternative venue in neighbouring countries to host our upcoming matches.’’ The Herald