Uutoni wary of impending Caf stadium inspections… says Govt alone can’t deliver on all fronts
In order to fully deliver on all fronts of sports development and build state-of-the-art facilities across the country, the Ministry of Sport, Youth and National Service – on behalf of the Namibian government – will need the unwavering assistance of local and international partners.
Speaking to New Era Sport yesterday, sports minister Erastus Uutoni touched on the continuous lack of world-class sporting facilities, especially multi-purpose stadiums, and how it hinders the government’s efforts and policies of sports development across the country.
Just about two days ago, neighbours Zimbabwe were banned by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) from hosting international matches because the country’s stadiums no longer meet the standards required by the continent’s football governing body or those of global football presiding entity Fifa.
As it currently stands, the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) will have to negotiate with neighbouring SADC countries to hold their international matches there until the stadiums are upgraded.
Namibia is also somewhat facing a similar predicament of substandard stadiums which no longer meet the basic requirements of Caf or Fifa. What has now become the country’s only reliable stadium, the Sam Nujoma Stadium, is facing serious challenges in terms of meeting set Caf and Fifa standards and its use was provisionally cleared by Caf to host international matches pending proposed upgrades to the stadium.
It is understood that the Caf inspection team will be back in the country next month for another routine inspection and comprehensive assessment of the country’s stadiums. The Sam Nujoma Stadium is owned by the City of Windhoek, while the Independence Stadium is owned by the government.
The Namibian this week reported that Caf’s last stadium inspection gave a “damning assessment” of the Sam Nujoma Stadium during its visit in August last year. The assessors made several recommendations pertaining to infrastructure and safety that needed to be implemented if international matches are to continue being played at the facility.
The Independence Stadium has for some time not been fit to host international matches, with the stadium’s turf not in the best of conditions to accommodate international matches.
“I have always said government alone cannot build world-class football stadiums or sports facilities in all 14 regions by itself, it’s just not possible. That’s why strategic partnerships with local and international stakeholders are important for the development of sports. Well, I understand the need and urgency of having such facilities but we must also look at our finances as a country and prioritise. Government through our ministry remains committed to the development of sports in all regions and that remains, but we also face a lot of other challenges and that’s why all partners in sport must come on board and assist,” said Uutoni.
Asked whether Namibia is ready for next month’s Caf inspections on football stadiums, the minister said he couldn’t comment much on what was to be expected from the Caf visit and also couldn’t preempt if Namibia would also be banned from hosting international matches but said they remain prepared to engage Caf on the way forward.
“Our stadiums are not in the best of condition and to be honest, I don’t want to preempt what verdict Caf inspectors will give us next month but we will sit down with them [Caf] and decide on the way forward based on whatever they tell us. For now, I can’t really say if we will face a ban from hosting international matches or not because it is beyond my judgement. But we remain ready for whatever Caf has to say or propose to us as a country. The Zimbabwe situation is bad and we don’t wish any of that for our football because our children have to play,” he added.
2020-02-28 10:47:40 | 4 months ago