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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Legislators express concern over local stadia

Story by Owen Mandovha

LEGISLATORS have urged the Ministry of Finance and Investment Promotion to allocate sufficient financial resources to upgrade the country’s sports infrastructure.

As Zimbabwe’s senior national football team play Nigeria away Rwanda in what is supposed to be a home World Cup qualifier due to the lack of FIFA-compliant stadia in the country, the issue was fiercely deliberated by legislators at the Pre-Budget Seminar currently underway at the New Parliament building in Mt Hampden.

The Warriors host Nigeria at Huye Stadium in Rwanda on the 19th of this month in their first home match of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Zimbabwe has been forced to play a home match away from home after all local stadiums failed to meet the minimum standards to host international matches.

The National Sports Stadium does not have individual seats commonly referred to as bucket seats, electronic access points, or stadium control centres among other basic requirements.

“It is disheartening that our kids who are inspired by our national soccer stars no longer have the privilege to watch soccer locally because of the failure to just upgrade a soccer stadium. There is no way that we must go to Rwanda to play our home fixture because the whole country can’t maintain or upgrade a national sports stadium,” said legislator, Honourable Tafadzwa Mugwadi.

Honourable Kwinidi Sleiman said, “There is indeed a need for us to pressure Treasury in our oversight role for them to release funds to build proper infrastructure because this issue has been going on for a long time and it seems there is no end in sight. We are going to use all our powers to achieve that.”

The Minister of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Dr Kirsty Coventry confirmed that they have put in their plea to the government for the upgrade of the National Sports Stadium to be expedited.

“The government is alive to that fact, and we have requested resources to expedite the immediate upgrade of these stadiums. But what is also required is to come up with a long-term management plan of sports infrastructure to avoid future occurrences,” she said.

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