Embattled Zimbabwe Football Association president, Cuthbert Dube, is leading a three-man ZIFA delegation to the 2014 FIFA World Cup tournament in Brazil which kicks off Thursday with a match between hosts Brazil and Croatia in Sao Paulo.
ZIFA spokesperson Xolani Gwesela says the delegation also attended the Federation of International Football (FIFA) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) congresses that ran before the World Cup kick off. They will also watch the opening match in Sao Paulo.
Brazil and Croatia are in Group A. Mexico and Cameroon are in the same group.
Accompanying Dube are his deputy Omega Sibanda and ZIFA chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze.
Dube was earlier this year forced into early retirement following a salary scandal revealed he was racking in more than half a million United States dollars monthly from the Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), where he was CEO, at the expense of service delivery.
Africa is represented at the World Cup by five teams - Cameroon in Group A with Brazil, Croatia and Mexico; Cote d'ivore is in Group C with Japan, Colombia and Greece; Nigeria is in Group F with Iran, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Ghana is in Group G with United States Of America, Germany and Portugal and Algeria is in Group H with Belgium, Russia and Korea Republic.
Meanwhile, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff says her country is ready to host the world cup tournament, and dismissed criticism of the massive costs of staging the event.
Angry protests have erupted in recent months across Brazil over the $11 billion that has been spent to build stadium and transportation projects in the 12 host cities.
Demonstrators say the projects have siphoned money away from other services, such as health and education, and have blamed the huge cost overruns on official corruption.
In a nationally televised address Tuesday, Ms. Rousseff said Brazil has increased spending on health and education by more than 200 percent since 2010. The president said despite the problems associated with hosting the world cup, Brazil was ready and eager to welcome the world.
Ms. Rousseff said Brazil would continue to reap the benefits of the infrastructure projects long after the world cup ended. She also vowed to seek punishment against anyone found to have engaged in corruption.
Voice of America’s Studio Seven reporter, Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye, spoke with the VOA’s Nico Pinnot, who says the mood in Sao Paulo is festive ahead of the opening match Thursday.