EXCLUSIVE: Zim splashes ‎$2m on soccer legends; Ryan Giggs among invitees

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By Sports Reporter

ZIMBABWE will fork out €1,95 million (US$2.3m) to host a group of high profile European soccer legends in the country as part of the sports tourism initiative to market the country as a safe destination.

Members of the star-studded side, which plays under the World Class Legends banner are expected in the country this Thursday for a four-day visit which will culminate in a high profile exhibition match against the Warriors Legends at the National Sports Stadium on June 8.

Former Real Madrid and Brazil defender Roberto Carlos, ex-Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs, Nigerian legend Austin Jay Jay Okocha, France and Arsenal legend Robert Pires, former Barcelona captain Carlos Puyol, ex-Brazil hitman Julio Baptista are among a host of big names that used to grace European football expected to make up the World Class Legends side.

The organisers are also planning to reach out to ex-Liverpool and Warriors legendary goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar to be part of the show.

The match was announced last month at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) boss Karikoga Kaseke and the World Class Legends represented by its chief operating officer Rayco Garcia.

The tourists had an opportunity to meet President Emmerson Mnangagwa where they pledged to market the country as a safe destination.

Garcia’s World Class Legends was behind the successful tour by the Barcelona Legends last year.

While the cost of the trip to Zimbabwe had been the subject of speculation as details of the memorandum of understanding have been kept a closely guarded secret, can exclusively reveal that the (ZTA) will pay almost € 2 million.

 “The purpose of the match is to promote tourism in Zimbabwe through sport and use the World Class Legends as ambassadors in promoting the key investment areas as per Zimbabwe Government document published January 2018,” reads part of the memorandum of understanding gleaned by

On the obligations and rights the agreement states that Party A (Garcia) is obligated:

*To facilitate in bringing the World Class Legends to Zimbabwe for a match against the Zimbabwe Football Legends.

*To be responsible for return flights to Zimbabwe for the World Class Legends.

*To be professional and provide all the necessary documentation needed to Party B so as to make the match a success.

* To bring a World Class Legend for at least one press conference to be held in Zimbabwe.

In return Party B, who is the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief excecutive, pledged:

*To facilitate in the payment of the match fees of € 1.95 million to Part A.

*The payment shall be made at least 15 days before the June 2018 match

*Party B will retain all revenue proceeds from match marketing, sponsorship, sale of television rights, gate collections and any other source of revenue generated from the direct or indirect marketing of the match.

Introducing the World Class Legends to President Mnangagwa during Zanu PF’s campaign launch at the Harare International Conference Centre, ZTA boss Kaseke said the visit was a component of Sport Tourism initiative to promote Brand Zimbabwe.

“These legends are in the country to promote Brand Zimbabwe. Football is a vehicle to promote peace and unity for development. For a long time, Zimbabwe has been wrongly vilified on the international scene.

“Now to endorse the new administration, the legends are here to show solidarity with us and are donating balls and some jerseys to his Excellency President Mnangagwa and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga,” Kaseke said to applause from the delegates.