The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has banned the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) from hosting international matches because the country’s stadia are not up to the required standard.
The decision has been made following a CAF stadium inspection in November and a subsequent report which was issued on December 1. The report pinpointed areas of improvement for three stadia: Barbourfields, Mandava and the National Sports Stadium (NSS).
The NSS in the capital of Harare is Zimbabwe’s biggest stadium with a capacity of 80,000.
ZIFA said that Mandava and NSS were “completely struck off the roster” but Barbourfields was provisionally certified on the condition that issues raised in the inspection report would be addressed.
None of the three stadium authorities requested ZIFA to invite CAF for another inspection and CAF has now moved to ban the three venues from staging international matches.
ZIFA said it is engaging CAF with a view to appeal the decision and has asked the stadium authorities to inform the body of timelines for improvement work at the venues.
ZIFA’s statement added: “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.
“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.”
Zimbabwe is due to host Algeria in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier next month and the country will now need to find a neutral venue.