The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has turned down a request by the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) to let in 10 000 supporters into the National Sports Stadium during the FIFA World Cup 2022TM qualifier between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
CAF said the stadium does not meet minimum health standards therefore it was not ideal to let in spectators during the pandemic.
The football board noted that exceptions are being made to allow spectators into the stadium, where and when the stadium in question meets required standards. CAF’s development division wrote:
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CAF analysed and assessed your request from a medical, stadium requirements compliance, and safety & security perspective in your venue. Accordingly, a decision has been taken not to allow the presence of spectators in the aforementioned match.
Since the resumption of international football late in 2020, National Sports Stadium has been hosting senior men’s international games on a provisional basis.
The stadium had been barred in 2020 just before Zimbabwe’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier against Algeria.
The absence of bucket seats and electronic access controls are among issues that CAF has continuously urged Zimbabwe to address to get unrestricted approval to host matches.
ZIFA on Saturday morning urged the government to accelerate renovations at the stadium so that local teams can welcome supporters back in the stadium as is the case in other nations.
Zimbabwe is likely to be without England-based players including Admiral Muskwe, Macauley Bonne and Marvelous Nakamba after their teams moved to bar players from travelling to Zimbabwe which is on the UK’s list of COVID-19 red zone countries.
More: Zim Morning Post