Sepp Blatter will visit Zimbabwe for the first time on Monday en route to South Africa, where he is due at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee. He will attend the COSAFA women's football championships and the opening of the Rufaro Stadium and Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) village in Harare.
The stadium was given an artificial football turf with funding from FIFA's GOAL project, the first imprint the development scheme has made in Zimbabwe. GOAL aims to bridge the gap in facilities between European countries and their less advanced counterparts in Africa, Asia and South America and has made provision to fund facilities in 35 African countries.
Zimbabwe is eager to show its progress to Blatter, because it has received additional funds to complete a second GOAL project.
In July 2009, the second GOAL venture was approved for Zimbabwe that will see an extension to the national technical centre, floodlights, dressing rooms and improved access routes built for the Rufaro Stadium. The second project is currently ongoing and expected to be complete in September. Zimbabwe were initially given US $400,000 and have had that topped up by US $150,000.
Zida believe the increased funding has come as a result of its willingness to commit to transparency and accountability and its improved sense of corporate governance under president Cuthbert Dube. "To prove that we are transparent, FIFA pay the contractors direct ... we won't handle a cent," Dube told the country's NewsDay newspaper when discussing the GOAL projects.
Dube took over the FA last year when it was insolvent and believes he has made significant strides to getting Zimbabwe football back on track. He sees Blatter's visit as a stamp of approval for his regime. "This is a huge vote of confidence in this board and I am glad to say our interactions at COSAFA, CAF and FIFA level are bearing fruit and people have seen that we are conducting our affairs in a business manner," Dube said.
Blatter will hold a press conference at 10am Zimbabwe time on Monday morning.
Zimbabwe is also due to be visited by FIFA's head of security, Chris Eaton, as it wraps up an investigation into alleged match-fixing. ZIFA submitted the second part of a report into the scandal that has become known as Asiagate to CAF and FIFA. The investigation looked into Zimbabwe's tour of Asia last year, where they lost 6-0 to Syria and 3-0 to Thailand.
Then-chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya sent the national team on the tour, although the matches were unsanctioned. The matches were linked to be a betting syndicate and were placed under inquiry. Rushwaya was fired for her actions in October last year. ZIFA have submitted its findings to both the continental and world footballing bodies and CAF has acknowledged receipt of the report. Eaton was due to arrive in Zimbabwe this week but, as yet, there has been no word of his presence.