Tuesday, 25 February 2020


FOR the first time in the history of Zimbabwean football, the Warriors will play competitive home games on foreign soil following Caf’s decision to add Barbourfields Stadium to the list of banned venues that don’t meet the continental body’s requirements.

Barbourfields had provisionally been cleared to host international matches during an inspection held in November last year when the National Sports Stadium and Mandava Stadium were condemned.

The Bulawayo Stadium went on to play host to FC Platinum’s Caf Champions League matches, World Cup qualifiers for the women’s Under-17 and Under-20 teams. 

Before yesterday’s announcement to ban Barbourfields, continental champions Algeria were next billed to play the Warriors at the venue in a 2021 Afcon qualifier next month.

Zifa dropped the bombshell of the Barbourfields Stadium ban yesterday through a Press statement, adding that they are searching for an “alternative venue in neighbouring countries to host our upcoming games”.

Bulawayo City Council were caught unaware by the latest decision, with Town Clerk Christopher Dube expressing shock that Barbourfields had been banned from hosting international games at a time they had started the process of revamping the facility to meet Caf standards.

“What delayed the process of improving certain things at Barbourfields Stadium was that there were processes that needed to be followed that include approval of the budget, which was done a couple of weeks ago. Also, some of the things have to be imported and foreign currency isn’t easily available. As it is, there’s an ongoing Government programme we are hoping to get help from for the development of Barbourfields Stadium,” said Dube. 

He said BCC was yet to receive any official communication on the ban.

Dube reiterated council’s commitment to improving the facility and feels they have been unfairly treated in losing the right to host international games at Barbourfields without being given adequate time to work on the facility.

“As Bulawayo we are committed to host international games in the city because that promotes tourism and improves revenue inflows. We are always ready for international games and I think it was only fair to give us time to attend to any shortcomings. What is important is to work together with Zifa and Caf and as Bulawayo City Council we can make a written commitment stating the timeline when renovations will be completed and then be held accountable if we miss the deadline,” said Dube.

Zifa said it had received correspondence from the Caf that all local stadiums do not meet standards to host international matches.

“The decision by Caf comes against the background of a Caf stadium inspection which was conducted last November and the subsequent inspection report circulated on the 1st of December which stipulated areas of improvement for  Barbourfields, Mandava and the National Sports Stadium (NSS) for them to be fully homologated.

“While Mandava and NSS were completely struck off, Barbourfields was provisionally certified on condition that issues raised in the inspection report were 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.

“At 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,” read the Zifa statement. Chronicle


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