Zimbabwe banned from hosting games because of poor stadiums
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe has been banned from hosting international soccer games by the Confederation of African Football because of substandard stadiums.
Zimbabwe was due to host defending champion Algeria next month in African Cup of Nations qualifying but will now need to find a neutral venue for that game and maybe the rest of its qualifiers.
The ban stems from an inspection visit by CAF late last year, when the African soccer body ordered Zimbabwe to upgrade its stadiums.
That hasn’t happened.
The Zimbabwe Football Association said Tuesday it had been told by the governing body “that our stadiums do not meet Confederation of African Football standards to host international matches.”
ZIFA said the ban affected “all upcoming international matches.”
CAF initially found Zimbabwe’s main stadium, the National Sports Stadium in Harare, inadequate. But the ban now extends to the rest of the country’s venues. ZIFA had hoped to use Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city, but that has also been ruled substandard.
ZIFA spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said the association has not yet decided on the venue for the Algeria game.
“We only received the letter today, so we are looking for options,” Gwesela told The Associated Press.
ZIFA is in a difficult position as it doesn’t own any of the stadiums. They are owned either by the national government or city councils. The southern Africa nation is in the midst of an economic crisis and spending money on soccer stadiums is not a top priority.
“So in the longer term future, after the Algeria tie, we will be guided by the government,” Gwesela said.
Zimbabwe’s next scheduled African Cup qualifier at home after the Algeria game is in September. Zimbabwe is second in its group behind Algeria and in line to qualify for next year’s African Cup in Cameroon if it stays there.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports