Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has responded to allegations by the Zimbabwe Football Association, (Zifa) that Barbourfields Stadium has a lighting problem and is not fit to host the Africa Cup of Nations 2021 qualifier match between Zimbabwe and Botswana on November 15.
Zifa moved the match from Bulawayo to Harare after raising concern about the poor state of floodlights.
BCC has however refuted claims from the soccer mother body that there is poor lighting at Barbourfileds.
“The City of Bulawayo did get communication from a representative from Zifa asking about the floodlights at Barbourfields Stadium and they (Zifa) were duly advised through a letter after tests that the lights were in good working condition,” reads part of the letter to Zifa signed by the director
of housing and community services.
However, Zifa subtly took a dig at the local authority.
Although Zifa did not say anything on record, the football association leaked a letter they received from BCC regarding use of the stadium under floodlights.
In the letter the council said the flood lights were functional although they were last used during the Cosafa women’s games in 2017. The letter added that the city cannot guarantee uninterrupted power supply during the match.
Annoyed by Zifa’s decision, Bulawayo’s public relations department, in a statement implied that there could be more to Zifa’s decision than the issue of floodlights.
“Zifa was advised that as per norm applicants intending to use the stadium should pay for the floodlights in advance and equally meet the hire costs of the stadium. “If no payment has been made, council considers that there is no booking of the stadium”, the statement said.
The local authority says Zifa did not pay to book the stadium and that could explain the football authorities’ decision to switch the venue to Harare.