The Zimbabwe football association has admitted to losing at least $100 000 in gate-takings following the chaos that marred the Zimbabwe-Democratic Republic of Congo encounter at National Sports Stadium entry points, where stampedes ensued and tens of thousands of supporters gained free entry.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
In a statement released by the debt-ridden association on Friday, Zifa admitted that only 13 090 fans paid to watch the high-profile tie.
The statement, said the organising committee meeting held on Friday, was told that 30 000 fans made their way into the stadium with Zifa making a meagre $78 669 at an average of $6 per fan.
If 30 000 fans had paid for entry into the stadium, Zifa would have made over $180 000 and a loss of at least $100 000. But in actually fact, an estimated 45 000 fans thronged the football ground, meaning the association could have easily raked in close to $300 00 in revenue
“A total of 13 090 fans paid to watch the match and we collected a gross amount of $78 669,” read part of the statement by the Zifa communications officer Xolisani Gwesela.
“However, it is the organising committee’s contention that approximately over 30 000 were at the National Sports Stadium to watch the match.”
In a classic example of lack of organisation, Zifa failed to employ a system to maximise on the interest generated by the match and there were long winding queues outside the stadium by kick-off time.
As a result, a number of entry points were broken down and thousands gained free entry, but the association would not take the blame, instead they attributed the chaos to congestion and network connectivity at payment points.
“All the roads leading to the National Sports Stadium were congested a few minutes before the match and about 80% of our beloved fans struggled to navigate the roads in order to arrive at the stadium before kick-off,” read the statement.
“The committee noted that about 20% of the expected fans were at the stadium when the match kicked off.
“It became very difficult to serve more than 20 000 fans at once as this is impossible with the current gates we have at the National Sports Stadium.
“We also experienced network and connectivity challenges at our payment points and this resulted in the slow processing of payments, which culminated in restlessness and crowd trouble.”
In a development that could raise the ire of the Zimbabwe National Army, the Zifa statement suggested that some military personnel turned rogue and took advantage of the chaos, taking bribes to help fans into the stadium.
“The meeting was informed that some rogue elements who were dressed in military uniforms and some unscrupulous stewards also caused mayhem and assisted fans to enter the stadium using undesignated points, demanding bribes in return,” read the statement.
Zifa also announced the activation of a disaster management committee to organise national team matches in future.