Fans’ trip to Tunisia in doubt

Itai Dzamara

SOCCER fans’ trip to Tunisia scheduled for today could fail because there is no money to charter a plane, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt. This is despite claims that the government had

donated $1,4 billion to the Warriors and promises by the Warriors’ Trust that the trip would take place.

Warriors Trust member Karikoga Kaseke involved in planning the travel arrangements frankly admitted that the trip was likely to be cancelled.

On Wednesday evening, Kaseke said the options available were too costly and the Warriors Trust couldn’t meet the expenses.

“It is a big problem,” Kaseke said. “The possibility of cancelling the trip is very high. The trip requires US$200 000 and we can’t meet the cost. We have two options which are organising a charter or a diverted plane like we did with the team. But the cost is too high.”

The Warriors left Harare on Monday aboard an Air Zimbabwe aircraft via London on a commercial schedule.

It has also emerged that claims that government had provided $1,4 billion to the Warriors’ cause could have been unsubstantiated.

“The amount that was forwarded for the Warriors’ preparations must have been far less than the $1,4 billion,” said a highly-placed source.

“We once queried this issue after observing how the team’s preparations were always in fits and starts at times due to lack of funding but the Warriors Trust would claim all was well. The truth is most of us are in the dark over the real situation regarding this issue.”

Kaseke wouldn’t comment on the issues involving the funding of the Warriors’ preparations but insisted that the Trust had done its best.

The Warriors Trust was formed by Information and Publicity minister Jonathan Moyo during one of his forays into soccer after realising the mileage that accrues from the game.

Education, Sports and Culture minister Aeneas Chigwedere once publicly denounced the Warriors Trust before taking a back seat as the roller-coaster carrying the Warriors on their way to Tunisia stumbled along a difficult path.

Meanwhile, fans who had booked for the trip to Tunisia and paid $1,5 million each were stunned this week to learn that the money excluded accommodation and food expenses. They were told to raise another $1 million per individual for accommodation and food, leaving some with no option but to pull out.

“All along they had made us believe that the $1,5 million catered for all expenses, only to learn this week that we had to raise money for accommodation and food,” said a disgruntled fan.

“Some have already pulled out and another typical scenario has emerged whereby like in the past, people will battle to have their money refunded probably to no avail.”

Chaos characterised the Warriors’ trip to Mauritania late last year, with many fans who were left stranded at the Harare International Airport still to get their refunds.