Zifa must bid for major tournaments –– Govt

GOVERNMENT has encouraged Zifa to join bids to host major tournaments to stimulate investment in infrastructure development.

Report by Daniel Nhakaniso/Kevin Mapasure
So far Zimbabwe has been unsuccessful in her bid to host the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) due to lack of government guarantees.

 
The nation’s stadia are among the oldest in Africa, with some built in the 1950s without any major facelift since.

 
Speaking during a press briefing after a football indaba on Wednesday, Sports minister David Coltart said: “We agreed that there is need for government to invest in local football stadia around the country. We have set a goal to get an international tournament such as Afcon allocated to Zimbabwe to give government something to work towards in the rehabilitation of our stadia.”

 
However, Coltart was not specific on when the country could make a bid, saying the parties would deliberate on recommendations and resolutions reached at the Indaba.

 
“These recommendations will be refined in the next week or two and once the ministry and Zifa agree, it will be made public. Those resolutions which need to go to cabinet for endorsement will be taken there in a separate paper which will draw on our deliberations,” he said.

 
Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze said his association was considering bidding for Afcon 2019.

 
“Hosting would result in the improvement of our infrastructure and the profile of the country,” said Mashingaidze.

 
“We have always wanted to host one of the big tournaments.

 
“We are looking at Afcon 2019 but before that we will try for junior tournaments such as the Under-17 and Under-20. We have some old stadia in the country and the only way we can attract investment is through the hosting of major tournaments.”

 
Wednesday’s indaba, which was the first of its kind in local football, brought together various stakeholders to find solutions to Zifa’s perennial financial challenges.

 
Coltart said they had agreed to review the issue of gate takings and various levies paid out to various stakeholders and service providers so as to ensure accountability.

 
Zifa and local clubs have always cried foul over what they term unreasonably high levies paid to councils, police and the Sports and Recreation Commission, among others.

 
“We looked at investment and infrastructure in the game and we studied in detail the issue of accountability and gate takings and various percentages which are paid, for example, to the responsible ministry, local councils, and the police.”

 
The closest Zimbabwe came to hosting Afcon was in 2000, but the Confederation of African Football took away its hosting rights at the last minute citing lack of preparedness.