The Confederation of African Football is known for double standards in their administration of football on the continent, and this past week, they were at it again, when they ordered FC Platinum to abandon use of their home ground, Mandava Stadium, just weeks after approving the facility.
According to CAF, the damning report by match officials for the preliminary round return leg against Green Mamba last weekend is the reason for their decision.
Apparently the match commissioners complained that they had to travel from Bulawayo and Harare to Masvingo for accommodation, distances of 299 and 294 kilometres respectively, before proceeding to the match venue at Mandava Stadium in Zvisgavane, a distance of about 95 km.
"We would also like to remind you with the provisions of article 5 paragraph 4: “If the distance between the capital city and the venue of the match is superior to 200km the host association shall provide the visitors with an airplane transport to the venue of the match and back.
“If this is not possible the match shall be played in the capital city except by agreement between the two teams.
“Consequently you are kindly requested to change the venue — Mandava Stadium — and your future matches to another venue that has the necessary requirements to host Caf matches,’’ CAF head of clubs competitions Essam Ahmed wrote to FC Platinum.
While the distances travelled by the match officials sounds unbearable, this is absolutely nothing new in Africa, and CAF appear to want to apply the same rules selectively.
Teams from Southern Africa, particularly those from Zimbabwean and South African have often complained about travelling distances between towns and cities in countries like Nigeria, Tunisia and have forwarded complaints to CAF in the past, yet their outcries fell on deaf ears.
It is understandable that Zifa intends to challenge this selection application of rules by the continental football governing body.
CAF recently permitted a country like Sudan to host the Championship of Nations (CHAN) tournament in cities in Sudan which are very far apart. Zifa CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze has put this into perspective.
“It is not the first time that teams have gone beyond the 200km mark by road, Dynamos and Monomotapa have experienced that in Tunisia, Motor Action recently travelled by road from Johannesburg to Polokwane.
“Even our own national team travelled a long distance by road from Khartoum to Wad Medani and there were poor hotels there but still Caf used that for the CHAN tournament. We have said the teams and the match officials can stay in Masvingo and travel the 90km journey to the match venue which will not affect them much.
“So we are going to strongly appeal against this decision which we believe also flies in the face of the efforts to spread football to areas that are not just the capital cities,’’ Mashingaidze said.
Could CAF be intervening only because a club from North Africa is set to be affected by the distance issue?
Many in Southern Africa are quick to raise the regionalism card against CAF. Not that they can be blamed for questioning CAF's apparent bias and double standards. CAF is not known for its affinity to applying rules in a consistently fair manner.