Debate has been going on in homes, in the streets, in bars, and even at work, on whether the $10 that is being charged to watch the Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Zimbabwe and Congo Brazzaville at the National Sports Stadium on March 24, is the ideal fee for the game.
Insidesport with MICHAEL KARIATI
This is a 100% increase from what football fans are used to paying to watch the Warriors in action while seated on the Rest of the Ground stands. On top of that, the VVIP stand has had a 400% increase from $50 up to $200 while those wishing to sit on bays 15-18 have had a 500% increase from $10 up to $50.
Although from the outset the $10 might look like a small figure, in reality, this is too much for the ordinary football fan who is already suffering from the harsh economic climate prevailing in the country and will also have transport costs to bear to-and-from the stadium.
The fact remains that those in authority do not feel the effects of their decision as their family members, relatives, and friends will have the luxury of watching the game free of charge from the VVIP stand.
History has shown that close associates of those at the helm of Zimbabwean football have always enjoyed the luxury of sitting on seats while those who would have paid for a VVIP seat suffer the agony of watching the game while on their feet.
Zifa say they need around $200 000 to make the game a success. However the question is: Why should the ordinary football fan be asked to pay for all the costs involved when there are other avenues which could easily be explored.
What exactly are Zifa doing or have done to make sure that they minimise the burden on the football fan? Surely, this game has a lot of interest both in government and the corporate world. So, what has the national football federation done to exploit that interest to their financial benefit?
The understanding is that Zifa have raised the gate charges in order to cover airfares for the Warriors and match officials as well as for transport and accommodation. At this dying stage of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers —especially when the Warriors are at the top — everyone wants to be associated with the team and the issue of airfares and accommodation should not have been of concern.
As for the airfares, Zifa could easily “sell” the players to the corporate world. The idea would be to approach the corporate world and business people and request them to sponsor airfares and surely, the whole team or at least half of it, would find buyers.
Which company does not want to be associated with Knowledge Musona, Khama Billiat, Tendai Darikwa, Marvelous Nakamba, George Chigova, and the Warriors, especially at a time the team is about to qualify for Egypt 2019?
If Zifa were to organise a fundraising dinner, donations by the mere mention of the Warriors at this stage of the Nations Cup qualifiers would yield unexpected financial figures as everyone would want to be seen to be playing a role in the team’s possible qualification. The government is another “would-be” major player in the run up to the March 24 match. Zimbabwe as a country stands to benefit heavily should the Warriors qualify for the Nations
Cup finals and the government should invest in the whole project.
Zifa have nothing to lose by approaching the ministry of Youth, Sport, and Arts to contribute towards transport and accommodation. The ministry was allocated $52,5 million in the annual national budget and a contribution of around $100 000 to the Warriors is just a small fraction of what the ministry has in its coffers.
Even that accommodation can easily be sourced at reasonable rates as most, if not all, the hotels in the city would want to be associated with a team that is top of their qualifying group with only one game left in their 2019 Nations Cup campaign.
Surely such a big game should be able to bankroll itself rather than rely on gate-takings to make it a success. Figures of around $10, $50 and $200 that are being talked about should, instead have been $5, $20 and $100 had there been proper planning and good marketing skills at 53 Livingstone Avenue.
In a normal situation, gate-takings should be channelled towards bonuses for the players for winning the game, and in the case of the Warriors, for qualifying for the 2019 Nations Cup finals as well. That is what should that happen.
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