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Last Updated: Monday, 19 November 2007, 15:07 GMT
Zambia in host stadium turmoil
By Kennedy Gondwe
BBC Sport, Lusaka

The grandstand of Zambia's Independence Stadium
The Zambian government says the grandstand is safe
The Zambian government has publicly disagreed with the country's football association over the venue for Chipolopolo's 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

World football's governing body Fifa has refused to pass fit the 43-year-old Independence Stadium, Zambia's biggest arena, as the venue for the matches because of its poor state of repair.

Fifa's decision leaves the country with just the Konkola stadium - where 12 fans died in a stampede in June - as the only alternative venue for the qualifying matches.

Football Association of Zambia (Faz) president Teddy Mulonga told BBC Sport the issue is so critical that "playing our home matches away from home is now a possibility".

But sports minister Gabriel Namulambe has reacted angrily to Mulonga's fears.

The pitch area of Independence stadium
The Independence Stadium is undergoing major renovation works

"It was so shocking to read Mulonga's sentiments," Namulambe told BBC Sport.

"As I speak, officials from Faz and my ministry have been to the Konkola stadium to see which areas need to be worked on before the qualifiers start.

"That is why I feel it was wrong for Mulonga to have issued that statement because after all, Fifa has yet to make a decision on the Konkola stadium.

"Speaking for the government, Konkola is the alternative to the Independence Stadium unless Fifa rules otherwise."

Namulambe was hopeful that repair works on the Konkola Stadium will meet Fifa's expectations.

Coffins of the 12 fans who died
Coffins of the 12 fans who died at the Konkola Stadium

He added that the government would also rectify areas that led to the stampede in June.

A report into the accident, says alcohol sale inside and outside the stadium was the primary cause of the deaths.

Over-crowding, poor crowd control and security lapses were also highlighted as reasons for the stampede.



SEE ALSO
Zambia stadium in World Cup race
11 Nov 07 |  African
Zambia stadium 'unfit' for games
18 Oct 07 |  African
Zambia stadium declared unfit
29 Aug 07 |  African


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