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Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Monday, 7 March 2011

Nations Cup stadiums standing idle in Angola

Luanda Stadium in February 2011
The stadium outside Luanda has rarely been used since the Nations Cup final last January and other venues across the country are in a similar state

By Louise Redvers
BBC Sport, Luanda

It has been thirteen months and counting since Angola hosted the Africa Cup of Nations.

But the four stadiums built from scratch for the tournament are standing idle, with uncertain futures.

The venues in Luanda, Lubango, Benguela and Cabinda are disused, locked up and some are reportedly disconnected from power supplies.

Last week I went to see the massive 50,000-seater stadium in Luanda and found the site totally deserted.

A tall wire security fence blocked off the main entrance and grass was growing over the empty and rain-sodden car park.

Since the end of the tournament in January 2010, the Chinese-built stadium, with its distinctive curved red roof, has been used on just a handful of occasions, the last time back in November to celebrate Angola's Independence Day.

The four international games hosted there since the Nations Cup ended have attracted only tiny crowds, largely because the stadium's location 20 kilometres from the city means it can take up to two hours to get there in traffic.

Luanda Stadium after the Nations Cup final
Luanda stadium was the showpiece venue of the 2010 Nations Cup

Local clubs refuse to hire the facility because the costs are just too high.

Reports say it is as much as 25 thousands dollars to hire out the ground for a game, a fee that an Angolan club cannot afford and could never claim back in ticket sales.

The problem appears to be that no management committees have been set up and the Chinese construction companies remain in charge of the venues - with local governments left to pick up the running costs.

The Ministry of Sport said it was preparing for a tender round to select possible public/private partnerships which might manage the stadium, but the process seems to be taking a long time.

I was first told about this study back in December 2009 and nothing seems to have happened since.

Insiders say there is a high level political stalemate over who should be awarded the contract and this was slowing things down.

Many from within the footballing community in Angola are concerned that if the stadiums are not used regularly and maintained, they could fall into disrepair.

Things take time, but we will do it right in the end

Angolan football official

On the back of the Nations Cup, Angola promised a mass investment into football, which remains the country's second sport behind basketball.

Some new community projects have found investment, like Luanda's Progresso da Sambizanga, whose plush and modern training facilities were officially opened by President Jose Eduardo Dos Santos last month.

But most of this is private money coming from individual donors and companies.

Angola finished as runners-up in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) last month in Sudan but fans have put this down to luck and the overall low level of competition, rather than it being a product of post-Nations Cup investment.

Nevertheless, one Angolan who worked with the organising committee in the build up to the Cup of Nations told me one year was not an unreasonable time to wait for the stadiums to find a management plan.

"This is Angola," he said, adding: "Things take time, but we will do it right in the end."

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see also
Inside Angola's 2010 stadiums
13 Sep 09 |  African
Footballisation pause
30 May 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations: Venue guide
07 Jan 10 |  Africa
Angola seeking future for stadia
01 Feb 10 |  Business

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