Sunday, September 20, 2020

World Cup benefits could now be fading

Despite the Botswana government’s efforts to tap into the potential presented by the 2010 South Africa World Cup, the country has failed to lure even a single team to use one of the refurbished facilities as its practice grounds.

All the energy and resources invested by Botswana seem to have been in vain, as, with the World Cup only a few months away, no team has shown interest in using Botswana’s facilities. At the same time, no team expressed interest in playing Botswana.

While the World Cup is two months away, all stadiums that were either being constructed or refurbished are still incomplete. All the stadiums were supposed to be complete by either the end of last year or early this year.

This then means the chances of Botswana playing any World Cup bound team is getting slimmer by the day. It is not yet known whether the stadiums will be ready by then. Even the Minister of Youth Sport and Culture Shaw Kgathi has expressed concern about the delay in the construction of stadiums. Kgathi told The Telegraph at a press briefing on Monday that the construction companies are giving different excuses for failing to complete the stadiums on time.

“Some companies will tell you that they have insufficient manpower. Some other factors, like natural disasters, are beyond our control. But we remain hopeful that all stadiums will be complete in time for the World Cup” he said.

Of the three stadiums, Lobatse is 86 % complete while Francistown is 68 % complete. Kgathi also said that the national stadium, which is under refurbishment, is 89 % complete.

But a secret visit to the national stadium by The Telegraph team painted a different picture. The way things stand; it will take a long time before the stadium is complete.

Even the workers who spoke to The Telegraph on conditions of anonymity expressed concern, saying the stadium will not be complete anytime soon.

Minister Khathi even conceded that the task team that was mandated to lure any big team for the World Cup to Botswana has failed. He said some of the countries Botswana courted wanted exorbitant appearance fees which they could not afford. He gave an example of Spain and Greece that wanted more than P11 and P2 Million respectively. The task force has since given the Botswana Football Association (BFA) the mandate. Still, even if the BFA succeeds, the stadium might be a problem.

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Sunday Standard September 20 – 26

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 20 - 26, 2020.