HARARE—Zimbabwean football fans have abandoned their disappointing clubs in favour of foreign clubs.
Walking down the streets anywhere in Zimbabwe, one is bound to come across a lot of Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Liverpool replica jerseys.
Here and there, far and in between, that is when one comes across people donning Dynamos, Highlanders Caps United jerseys.
This is just the opposite of neighbouring South Africa where replica jerseys of Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaiser Chiefs, and Orlando Pirates are worn everywhere.
Although there are others who put on replica jerseys of foreign teams, most of them are foreign nationals who live and work in that country.
Football analyst Wallace Mawire says Zimbabwean football has lost its respect to the extent that local football followers have found solace in foreign clubs where they are guaranteed satisfaction.
“The supporters are now looking to foreign sport teams as it is where they are getting satisfaction. The local teams, they have been demoralized by their performance,” says Mawire.
LOW ZIMBABWE SOCCER STANDARDS
Caps United follower Patrick Mombeshora adds his voice to the debate saying Zimbabwean football standards have sunk so low to the extent that not many still want to be associated with the local game.
“You find that the standards have gone down and people are now excited by the foreign international teams,” adds Mombeshora.
Another football fan Ephraim Gwavava said he was saddened by Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton, ironically on the same day the Warriors had lost 1-0 to Mali and eliminated from the Chan finals.
“The game that touched my heart was the one for Manchester United,” says Gwavava.
However, former Caps United defender Kudzanai Mukucha who now coaches Zifa northern region division Two outfit Dillo Aces strongly believes that Zimbabwean domestic football is still among the best on the continent.
Mukucha says Zimbabweans in general have a big problem as they do not respect themselves and are excited by everything that is foreign.
FAVOURITE FOREIGN CLUBS
The former Cup Kings defender says it is not surprising that Zimbabweans have their own favourite foreign teams arguing that in Europe you get some people who follow and support Zimbabwean clubs.
“Zimbabweans have a problem. They don’t respect themselves. They are excited by foreign things. If we are not good enough, why are South African clubs after our players? How then did we qualify for Chan four times?”
Mombeshora also added that jerseys for local clubs are not found in shops as the shop owners believe there is no market for them.
“The jerseys are not available in the shops. If there are there are only very few for top teams like Highlanders, Caps United and Dynamos.”
However, Zimbabwe Football Association Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Mashingaidze claims Warriors jerseys are there in abundance, contending that they have an agreement with their kit sponsors to provide replica jerseys for sale to the public.
Of late, a large number of local football fans have also been watching mostly European football on television, abandoning watching Castle Lager Premier Soccer League or Warriors’ matches.
Mawire says he has observed that people have resorted to watching television soccer instead of PSL soccer matches in order to save money.
“People now tend to watch football on television instead of wasting their money on local football where they know the results would be very disappointing,” he says.
Former Premier Soccer League Chief Executive Officer Chris Sambo suggests that the PSL should come up with ideas to make the game more attractive and bring back the fans who have deserted the stadiums.
Edward Tembo, who won the league title with Motor Action in 2010 and is now at Harare City adds his voice to the debate saying the game in Zimbabwe is as good as any in Africa but points out that there is need for more knockout tournaments to retain the interest of old.
“Football in this country is as good as in African countries. The only problem is that there are few knockout tournaments. This has made the game less exciting.”
However, another of the football followers Kingstone Marange is of the opinion that most people have lost interest in local football due to the betting syndrome that has gripped the country.
“This has been driven by the coming in of soccer betting. People are spending their time on soccer betting and that is the reason why they are putting on jerseys of their favourite foreign teams,” says Marange.
He says in Zimbabwe, football betting has become a source of employment as most people have lost their jobs and are unemployed.
However, the truth is that there is betting in other countries but they still take their time to support their own clubs. – VOA