By Henry Mhara
The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) is unhappy with Philip Chiyangwa’s meddling in their discussions with the Confederation of African Football (Caf) over the country’s stadium ban, accusing him of trying to get cheap mileage from the crisis.
Chiyangwa (pictured) claimed last week that he had personally contacted Caf president Ahmad Ahmad and asked him to intervene and help lift the ban imposed on Zimbabwe’s football stadiums from hosting international football matches.
The businessman said he intervened in his role as the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) president.
However, Zifa yesterday raised a red flag over Chiyangwa’s efforts, saying his actions could muddle the process.
“We are worried about some people who are seeking cheap attention by trying to pre-empt what Caf is doing,” a Zifa official, who requested anonymous, said yesterday.
“We are hearing some reckless statements from people, some going as far as suggesting that they have spoken to the Caf president personally over the matter. That is not good. The Caf president can’t make decisions over the stadiums.
There are committees that deal with that, and we believe they are very professional. The issue is about the areas (stadiums) that need to be improved to meet certain standards to host international matches. No amount of politicking or phone calls to Ahmad would solve that. It’s simple as that.”
Caf last month banned the country from hosting international matches because all the three international venues (the National Sports, Barbourfields and Mandava Stadiums) failed to meet the required standards.
“As Zifa, we have engaged the government and other stakeholders to improve our stadiums and we are very happy with the progress. The minister (Local Government minster July Moyo) on Friday toured the National Sports Stadium, and the deputy Sports minister (Tinoda) Machakaire were in Bulawayo last week, which shows the commitment that the government is putting on this situation.
“These are delicate discussions, and Caf will not entertain anyone besides Zifa when dealing with Zimbabwe football issues. That is why they are not even communicating with the government. Everything comes through official channels, which is Zifa. If Caf wants something, they will not go through anyone else, except Zifa.
“What we see here is a person who is trying to make Caf angry by pre-empting the discussions that are happening behind the scenes. Claiming that one has already told Caf to grant us authority to use the stadium is nothing short of sabotaging the appeal process as Caf may shy away fearing reprisals that they take instructions from some individuals. Such glory seeking antics are dangerous and compromise us.”
Zimbabwe is set to play Algeria in a Group H qualifier on March 29, but the country risks the embarrassment of hosting the match outside its borders.
A Caf inspection team is expected in the country this week to check the progress at the National Sports Stadium in Harare and Barbourfields in Bulawayo. News Day