The Zimbabwean men’s rugby team arrived on July 2 in Béja, Tunisia, ahead of a Saturday match against the Tunisian national team as part of elimination rounds for the 2019 World Cup. But they ended up spending the night sleeping on the pavement.
Since the morning of Tuesday, July 3, social media in Zimbabwe has been full of photos and videos showing players for the national rugby union team sleeping on the streets, their heads on their suitcases.
This situation occurred just five days before the Zimbabwean team was set to play the Tunisian team in the Africa Gold Cup a qualifying competition for the Rugby World Cup, which will take place in Japan in July 2019.
The team had complained about the poor conditions of the hotel they were given and opted to sleep on the street .
“Our national rugby team the Sables are being treated in the most appalling way in Tunisia. They have been forced to sleep on the streets as the accommodation they were provided with is disgusting,” wrote David Coltart, the former Zimbabwean sports minister, in a Facebook post.
“We would like to reassure the Zimbabwean Ministry of Sports, Zimbabwe Rugby Union, and all partners and fans that the situation was addressed immediately and an acceptable solution has been found this morning,” Rugby Africa said in a statement.
— Brian Mujati (@MujatiBrewing) July 3, 2018
“On arrival, they spent six hours held up at the border and the authorities have taken their passports claiming they need to pay for visas amounting to €600, which they can’t pay as they don’t have funds… What is the Minister of Sport doing about this? Can our nearest ambassador help?” he wrote.
“Please help our #Zimbabwe national team!”, tweeted Trudy Stevenson, the Zimbabwean ambassador to Senegal and the Gambia.
Before Tunisia, the team was in Kenya. Player Takudzwa Mandiwanza told Zimbabwean radio station that the tour was a “shambles”.
“We have not been paid our daily allowances for our duration in Kenya, including our match fees that we did not receive,” said Mandiwanza. “Now we’re in Tunisia, we were detained at the airport for close to six hours, with no allowances given to us.”
He added that the coach had bought the team food and drinks with his own money.
“The situation is very frustrating and disheartening,” Mandiwanza said.
“Rugby Africa and Tunisia Rugby Union would like to express their sincere apologies to the Sables team and management for this unfortunate situation,” said a statement.