SPORTS Minister David Coltart has ordered the Sports and Recreation Commission to stage some national team matches out of Harare.
Coltart made the intervention in a letter to the SRC’s board this week.
The minister said: “If we are to build national support for all sporting disciplines and a national sense of pride, our national teams must be seen by as many Zimbabweans as possible throughout the nation.
“For some time, I have been concerned about what I perceive as an inequitable distribution of international sporting fixtures in Zimbabwe. For example, the Warriors have not played outside of Harare for some time, thus depriving football supporters throughout Zimbabwe of the opportunity to watch the national team.”
The national team has played all Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifiers either at Rufaro Stadium or the National Sports in Harare.
But Coltart wants this to change, saying football must follow the example of cricket, rugby and hockey.
He said he recognised that only certain facilities are acceptable for international events and to that extent, only certain stadia can be used.
“This will be taken into account in the formulation of the directives,” he says in the letter.
The minister said other exceptions could be made, including financial reasons for wanting an event staged at a particular venue.
“The SRC should exercise its discretion to authorise, subject to undertakings having been obtained that equity will be obtained in future fixtures. The SRC must publicly announce this change in policy and annually produce a report detailing where all international matches have been held, the dates they have been held, the respective attendance figures and the report should give any justification applied to allow any deviation from a precisely equitable share of matches at all internationally accepted venues,” he added.
The directive – which Coltart wants implemented from August 1 – will affect all national football teams, including youth sides and the women’s team.
Apart from the National Sports and Rufaro, Bulawayo’s Barbourfields Stadium is the only other sporting facility approved to host international matches.
SRC director general Charles Nhemachena said: “I can confirm we did receive the letter and the board is going to consult and respond.”