By Eddie Chikamhi
ZIFA have called on the local authorities to expedite the renovations at the National Sports Stadium after the association were slapped with a US$2 000 fine for the lack of bucket seats.
The giant stadium, which is expected to host the World Cup qualifiers starting in June, has been under renovations, since last year.
The facelift was triggered by CAF inspectors, who raised a red flag, and made sweeping recommendations, including the installation of bucket seats.
Despite covering a lot of ground, in other areas including the pitch, changing rooms, doping rooms, after Government chipped in, the installation of bucket seats and electronic turnstiles has lagged behind.
CAF recently asked all member associations to submit information, on the state of the stadia to host the World Cup qualifiers, and it appears they were not happy the giant stadium still has not been fitted with bucket seats.
ZIFA spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, yesterday said they had informed the authorities about the need to complete the work at the National Sports Stadium, so that the facility meets the required standards of CAF.
“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 yesterday.
“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.”
The National Sports Stadium was condemned by CAF last year, after it failed an inspection test.
The association had been told to look for alternative venues for the Warriors’ AFCON qualifying games.
However, Government stepped in to save the situation and there has been remarkable transformation at the giant facility.
The Warriors were granted provisional approval to play at home and they hosted Algeria and Zambia.
But, it is not clear if the grace period will extend to the upcoming 2022 World Cup qualifiers, which will run from June to October.
Zimbabwe are set to host neighbours South Africa between June 5-8.
The Government has erected a state-of-the-art media tribunal, medical centre, dressing rooms, among other things, but are yet to install bucket seats.
Deputy Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Tino Machakaire, recently toured the stadium and told The Herald a local supplier of bucket seats has been identified.
Machakaire, however, raised concern over the stealing of equipment, meant for the renovation, of the country’s biggest sports facility.
Some of the items, which were missing, according to Machakaire, included refrigerators and LED television sets, which cost thousands of dollars.
He said some people have been taking advantage of the difficult situation, caused by the coronavirus pandemic, to loot equipment meant for the upgrading of the giant facility.
The National Sports Stadium is the only venue in the country allowed by CAF to host high-profile international matches. The Herald