ZIFA has bidded to host three Fifa World Cup tournaments in the next five years, IndependentSport has learnt.
Zifa is vying for the men’s Fifa Under-20 World Cup in 2013 while they also want to bring the women’s version of the same competition to Zimbabwe in 2014. If they succeed to host the women’s Under 20 tournament, Zimbabwe would automatically win the right to stage the senior women’s World Cup in 2015.
Official bids have since been submitted to Fifa, beating the September 30 deadline.
Zifa acting chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze on Tuesday confirmed the development.
“We have thrown in the bids to host the age group tournaments and if we win the women’s then we will host the senior women’s championship as well,” said Mashingaidze
“After South Africa successfully hosted the Fifa men’s World Cup this year we felt we have learnt a lot from them on how to stage the Fifa tournaments. We have also hosted the All Africa Games before and it has been a long time since a big sporting event came to Zimbabwe and this is just one way to market our country and our players.”
With two World Cups having been successfully staged in Africa in 2009 and 2010, Zimbabwe will be looking to take advantage of that success and bring international tournaments to the local scene.
Egypt hosted the 24-team, men’s Under-20 finals last year while South Africa staged the 2010 Fifa World Cup in June.
Mashingaidze said Zifa will consult its South African counterparts on
the expertise of staging the competitions.
The association is banking on Zimbabwe’s attractive tourism package, the country’s accessibility and the infrastructure which Mashingaidze said will only need a bit of sprucing up.
“We have since informed the government about this initiative and they have promised to support us. If we are shortlisted, we will then be invited to make a power point presentation where we will bank on support from our South African counterparts and some Zimbabweans who have influential positions internationally,” said Mashingaidze. “In the past we have failed to host the African Cup of Nations because we didn’t have a government guarantee, but this time around we won’t have that problem. We have a lot of international teams coming to Zimbabwe taking part in different sporting disciplines, we had the Brazil national soccer team this year and cricket has been hosting different teams successfully, so we are confident we are a good host nation,” added Mashingaidze.
The last edition of the Fifa Under-20 men’s World Cup, which was organised by Egypt, was won by Ghana while Netherlands and Canada had hosted the finals in 2005 and 2007 respectively with Argentina winning both.
The tournament has ushered in some of the biggest names in football, among them, Barcelona and Argentina star player Lionel Messi, Spain’s Andres Iniesta and England’s’ Michael Owen.
The next finals of the same tournament are set for Colombia next year, but Zimbabwe can only be spectators after they were pulled out of all junior competition by the then Wellington Nyatanga regime at Zifa.
The Caf Under-20 Championships, to be played next year, serve as the qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup.
On the other hand, the African Women’s Championships set for South Africa between October 29 and November 14 serve as the qualifiers for the senior women’s World Cup set for Germany next year and again Zimbabwe can only watch from the sidelines.
Germany hosted and won the last Under-20 women’s championships earlier this year.
Zifa missed out on the opportunity to place a bid for the hosting of the Caf African Cup of Nations tournament in 2015 after having expressed interest in staging it locally.
They have since indicated their interest in the 2017 finals, which they are unlikely to host if South Africa wins the bid to stage the 2015 event.
Mashingaidze also said that they will bid for junior continental tournaments once made available.