The Zifa Board argues that the National Sports Stadium has security and they can also maximise on the gate takings due to the low ground rentals charged by the Sports and Recreation Commission.
From a security point of view, the National Sports Stadium is more spacious and the police can control the crowds, in the event of disturbances.
Rufaro cannot hold the numbers that are expected for the highly charged match against Liberia lest we will see the scenes witnessed at the Mbare venue, when some fans bulldozed into the stadium after breaking one of the gates. This is one of the major problems with Rufaro, if there is crowd troubles the police cannot control the mayhem.
Pictures of the countless shoes left behind as fans jostled to get in for a free watch when the gate near the Vietnam stand was forced open, when the Warriors played Mali, still linger in mind. There could have been dead bodies in the stampede.
It was total chaos as people risked life and limb to get into the stadium. From a security point of view, Rufaro is a disaster waiting to happen. There are always people milling around outside the stadium, be it the Warriors or any other team playing at Rufaro.
These people are troublemakers, who wait for opportunity to fish people’s pockets in the event of crowd trouble. These are the same people who would have spent endless hours in the sun gulping alcholic beverages at a nearby watering hole.
When skirmishes erupt, they quickly join in like a pack of animals. The technical team led by Mapeza will tell you that Rufaro is more intimidating for the visitors.
The Nations Cup is not Mickey Mouse business. The noisy fans at Rufaro do not intimidate Liberia’s top players like Edward Junior Wilson and William Jerbo. They ply their trade in Europe and are used to this treatment, including racial taunts.
Liberia’s David Gbemie – a talented midfielder who joined the Bolton Wanderers youth team at 13, has an ambition like that of a V8 engine and cannot be easily swayed by fans in the stands.
The typical Zimbabwe Warriors fan will go into a silent mode, especially when the chips are down. The typical Warriors fan will troop out of the stadium five minutes before full-time, when Zimbabwe is down.
This assertion that Rufaro could have been a perfect venue borders on nothing but superstition as the Warriors have chalked one victory, and a draw in the current Nations Cup campaign. No wonder the technical team is going gaga about playing at Rufaro. There is the feeling that magic is brewed at the venue. The Warriors managed a victory against Mali at Rufaro because they were good on that day.
From a player’s point of view, they would tell you that its blood and sweat playing at the artificial turf at Rufaro. Rufaro inorema they often cry. The heat-absorbing properties of an artificial field make it too hot to play on in extremely warm weather.
Proponents point out that use of the fields can be managed to ensure that athletes aren’t playing at the hottest times of the day and are adequately hydrated; as a result, they argue, the higher temperature is more of a comfort issue than safety issue. Wounds, burns and friction injuries have been reported to be more common on artificial turf.
From an economic point of view, it’s very unfair for the hard-pressed fans given that the gate charges have been hiked to US$5 from US$3 for the rest of the ground.
The fans will also incur an extra cost in travelling to the National Sports Stadium than Rufaro where they can easily walk from the city centre.
Anyway, the match will be at the National Sports Stadium.
When the chips are down on September 4 after the referees blows the final whistle, let us not blame the stadium. The Warriors have posted impressive results at the same venue before.
By Fanuel Viriri
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