In a letter to the Madagascar Football Association that leaked on social networks on Friday afternoon, the African Football Confederation (CAF) stated that the match in the Barea of Thursday, September 2 against Benin must be held without spectators.
as reported from Antananarivo, Laure Verneau
If the FIFA protocol requires that all matches be held behind closed doors, in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic, CAF Development Manager Raul Chipenda specifies, he adds that the request would have been the same. from a medical point of view, for compliance with stadium requirements and for the safety and security of the venue ”. Verdict: within a week after the match, spectators will not be allowed.
The safety of the stadium questioned It is therefore a cold shower for the Malagasy authorities. Already this week, the presidency had announced 20,000 spectators for free entry to the Barea match next Thursday: 12,000 vacancies for the public and 8,000 guests – half of the stadium’s staff due to health measures.
The official opening of the stadium would take place before the match, scheduled for 19.00. 80% completed in June, Barea Stadium had already hosted the 60th anniversary celebrations of the country’s independence.
Jocelyn Razafimamonjy is a member of the Executive Committee of the Madagascar Football Association. He explains that the organization requested a reconsideration on Saturday morning with the African Football Confederation and FIFA. Health reasons are not enough to ban the match from the public, according to him, because the Covid epidemic in Madagascar is under control and the FMF had prepared the necessary precautionary measures (masks, hydroalcoholic gels …). He further denies the stadium’s safety deficiencies. For him, the reasons behind closed doors are only sanitary.
However, the letter is unequivocal: it questions the building’s non-conformity.
Will the Malagasy authorities follow the decision of the African body and risk disciplinary sanctions? Will the match date change? What will Cairo’s response be to FMF’s request? On Saturday morning, hundreds of supporters lined up to pick up their free tickets to Thursday’s match.
Still expensive work This CAF ban falls badly: the stadium work, which began in 2020, ended just a few days ago. Especially since these renovations have been controversial. They were carried out by the Chinese company China State Construction Overseas Development (CSCOD) and cost the state of Madagascar $ 77 million in equity. An unreasonable cost had been estimated at the time by civil society, while the capital suffers from regular water damage and stress relief due to dilapidated infrastructure. The cost of the work was announced by the Presidency’s Secretary General, Valéry Ramonjavelo, in January 2020 at a press conference. The goal was to make this 100% Malagasy stadium a “national pride” – from Mahamasina Stadium it changed its name to Barea Stadium at the moment.
Hony Radert, Secretary General of the Collectif des Citiens et des Organizations Citoyennes (CCOC), a civil society organization, explains that “at the CCOC level, we have regularly questioned the priority of allocating a significant amount of internal resources to the construction of this stadium. “
For Eric Rabesandratana, the coach of Barea, the lack of general can affect the performance of the Madagascar. “When you have your supporters, you can transcend yourself and achieve completely different sporting performances, so the importance of the audience is real. We will try to ignore and prepare differently, but it is certain that this is a handicap. “
The stadium has often been criticized for its lack of standards, among other things: its entrances are too narrow for the audience. He has already experienced three fatal crushes. In September 2018, during the qualifying match Madagascar-Senegal for CAN 2019, a popular movement at the entrance, before kick-off, left at least 1 dead and 37 injured. On June 26, 2019, the national day, another storm caused 17 people, most of them teenagers under 15 years.