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World Cup benefits blow for Zimbabwe

WHEN Fifa announced the base camps for all 36 Fifa World Cup finalists last week, they were all in South Africa.

This was a big blow for Zimbabwe as football authorities and politicians in this country have in the past months waxed lyrical about their concerted efforts to lure participating teams to camp in the country ahead of the world’s biggest single-sport showpiece.

Early indications are that the campaign, which gobbled thousands of dollars, could come to naught after all.

The glaring flaw in the campaign is that it was largely on political levels. One country in particularly is said to have made a commitment to come to Zimbabwe through its ambassador.

Most international football sides are not subjected to government interference, and such decisions as touring certain countries are made by the football associations and the teams themselves.

At the draw for the World Cup in Cape Town in December, Zimbabwe had the biggest delegation among the non-participating teams.

The high-powered delegation was led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

Such have been the expected benefits from spillovers from the World Cup that some Harare residents even agreed to “register” their houses for lodging by football tourists who will come to watch the World Cup.

However, Zifa chief executive Henrieta Rushwaya yesterday said there was still hope on the horizon. She said some teams would leave their countries well before they are scheduled to be in their bases in South Africa. That’s when countries like Zimbabwe will be at hand to host them, she said.

“We are still formulating modalities,” Rushwaya told IndependentSport yesterday. “Rest assured that we will have two teams training here before the World Cup. They are going to play our national team, the Warriors.”

Former Premier Soccer League chief executive Chris Sambo said Zimbabwe is likely to miss out because its strategy misfired.

“First and foremost, the whole effort was misdirected,” Sambo said. “That is why I’ve been apprehensive about this whole idea that they (World Cup teams) will come here. The facilities we have are not of international standard to be used by teams made up of some of the world’s greatest players.”

Sambo was also quick to say the country’s image, despite the inclusive government, is still not attractive enough.

“Zimbabwe is a typical example of a victim of African pessimism,” he said.

Sambo also mentioned the country’s road network and telecommunication as one of the major drawbacks.


Enock Muchinjo

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