Madagascar Denied World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Due to Non-Compliant Stadium

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World Cup

A blow to Malagasy football as the verdict from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has finally been delivered after a month of anticipation: the Barea Stadium, completed in 2021 at an exorbitant cost of $77 million, fails to meet required standards.

Consequently, the capital’s stadium will not host two of the World Cup 2026 qualifiers in June as initially planned. The Malagasy Football Federation had to seek an alternative solution, opting for matches to be held in South Africa.

The Malagasy population will miss out on the qualifiers on home soil, and the national team will be without local support, direct consequences of the irrevocable decision made by the CAF on May 13th. Following negotiations led by the Malagasy Federation, the qualifiers are set to take place in Pretoria, South Africa, unless otherwise directed by the CAF.

In 2021, the CAF granted an exceptional waiver to host international matches in the brand-new stadium. However, the recommendations outlined in the African organization’s inspection report have not been adhered to since. Consequently, the Director of Tournaments and Events at CAF refused to grant a new authorization this year, despite rushed improvement works carried out over the past three weeks.

Safety Concerns for Spectators

A critical pitch, cramped changing rooms, inadequate VIP areas… The report indicates that the stadium still fails to meet minimum requirements. However, it’s the aspects related to spectator safety that remain “concerning,” according to the report. Freshly completed works did not convince, for example, not all electronic turnstiles to regulate visitor flow are functional.

Emphasizing this point, the international football governing body highlights that they “cannot ignore the tragedy of August 25, 2023, at the stadium,” when a stampede during the opening ceremony of the Indian Ocean Island Games resulted in the death of at least 12 people.

“Our hope lies in the fifth matchday, scheduled for September,” he continues. Additionally, he confirms ongoing “minor improvements” and indicates that more significant works “will be budgeted for 2025: we will do what is necessary to meet the standards.”


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