The Confederation of African Football (CAF) banned the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) from using local stadiums in all upcoming international matches as they do not meet the CAF standards to do so.
CAF had conducted an inspection of three stadiums, Barbourfields, Mandava and the National Sports Stadium, in November last year with a report issued thereafter detailing areas of improvement for them.
Of the three stadiums, only Barbourfields in Bulawayo was provisionally certified on the condition that issues raised in the inspection report would be dealt with. The other two stadiums were crossed off the list.
“Stadium authorities were notified of CAF’s position and the urgent nature of the situation at hand. To date, neither of the three stadium authorities has requested us to invite CAF for another inspection, a position which CAF has said led to the decision to bar all three stadiums from hosting international matches.,” a statement from ZIFA read in part.
ZIFA confirmed that it will appeal against the decision once stadium authorities provide written evidence on how they will achieve the necessary changes to the stadiums before another inspection by CAF.
“In 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,” ZIFA said.
“We are hopeful that everyone who has influence to expedite the process of bringing our teams back home will do their part.”
ZIFA added that it is searching for an alternative venue in neighbouring countries to host the national team’s upcoming matches.
Zimbabwe faces AFCON champions Algeria in back-to-back games in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers in Group H in March, the second of which was a home game to be played at Barbourfields. Its final AFCON qualifier is scheduled to be at home to Zambia in September.
Meanwhile, the African qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar begin in early October. Zimbabwe is in Group G along with Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa.