the race against time for new stadiums – Jeune Afrique

The country has embarked on the construction and renovation of its stadiums. But corruption, the price of raw materials or the legal troubles of certain industrialists have caused some construction sites to take a considerable delay.

On March 7, during a trip to the wilaya of Constantine, the Algerian Sports Minister Abderrazak Sebgag firmly expressed his annoyance: the Chahid-Hamlaoui stadium (40,000 seats), the subject of major rehabilitation work with including the laying of a new lawn, should have been delivered in March 2022. But some companies selected to carry out these missions have fallen far behind schedule.

But Constantine must host several matches of the African Nations Championship (the Chan, organized from January 8 to 31, 2023). Abderrazak Sebgag, after having warned that latecomers will be sanctioned, put pressure on the local authorities in charge of the file so that the enclosure is delivered as quickly as possible.

The Minister recalled that the State “had mobilized the necessary financial credits as well as all the equipment and the means of realization required for the realization of the project”, in other words the adaptation of the stadium to international standards. Before warning that he would return to the site in April to verify strict compliance with his instructions.

Race against time

The Chahid-Hamlaoui stadium is one of those selected to host the matches of the competition, with that of July 5 in Algiers (85,000 seats), May 19, 1956 in Annaba (56,000 seats), all two also in the rehabilitation phase.

Two new enclosures – the Olympic stadium in Oran (40,143 seats), the scene of the next Mediterranean Games (June 25 to July 5, 2022) and that of Baraki, south of Algiers (40,714 seats) – emerged from the ground in 2021 and will also host the Chan.

As for the Mouloudia Club of Algiers, it will soon play at the Douéra stadium (40,000 seats), to the south-west of the capital, which will have cost the trifle of 105 million euros. The stadiums that will host CAN Under-17 matches in 2023 are not yet known.

Algeria has thus embarked on a vast project to upgrade its sports infrastructure, as Morocco and Egypt have done. Not without difficulties. “Stadiums, there were. But they were no longer up to FIFA standards in terms of security, reception of supporters, etc. The problem came in particular from maintenance and also from the fact of having favored synthetic surfaces”, analyzes Ali Fergani, ex-coach of the Fennecs.

The additional costs reach almost indecent amounts

If it wants to be able to organize an African Cup of Nations (CAN) in the medium term, Algeria must renovate or build stadiums. “The problem is that some sites have dragged on for years,” laments the former international. The Constantine stadium is just one example among many: in Tizi-Ouzou, the stadium for 50,000 people has been under construction for fifteen years.

Cost explosion

The costs have exploded – we are talking about a bill of nearly 330 million euros – for an enclosure that is not yet completed. The situation of the Baraki Stadium is hardly any better, since the construction site began in… 2004. “For several months, even several years, the work was interrupted. This explains these delays in delivery, ”says Fergani again.

The subject is obviously sensitive in Algeria. Several people contacted preferred not to respond to our interview requests. “The additional costs, when you build a stadium, it is a relatively frequent thing whether in Europe, Africa or elsewhere. But here, it reaches almost indecent amounts. The example of the Tizi-Ouzou stadium illustrates the situation perfectly”, mocks a manager of an Algerian professional club.

Corruption

“There were changes in the companies that were to participate in its construction. This stops work and money is squandered… But don’t worry! He is not lost for everyone. There is no need to follow all these files very closely to understand that some are using it in passing. A lot of money is embezzled. The problem is that it is often public money, ”he denounces.

The project, validated in 2006, concerned the construction of a 40,000-seat stadium, before being revised upwards for an enclosure that could accommodate 50,700 people.

The Tizi-Ouzou stadium will have cost twice the Juventus Stadium in Turin

The contract had been awarded to the Groupement composed of ETRHB Haddad (the group of the businessman Ali Haddad, now in prison) and FCC-Barcelona (Spain). Work only started in 2010, until the divorce between the two partners in 2014.

The Turkish group MAPA took over to finalize a project revised upwards with, in addition to increasing the capacity of the enclosure, the construction of a real sports complex including in particular a 6,000-seat athletics track.

“The country has experienced difficult times economically and we have also witnessed a strong inflation of certain materials essential to the construction of a stadium, which has increased the costs”, explains Yazid Ouahib, journalist at El Watan.

The building, which is not yet completed, will have cost twice the Juventus Stadium in Turin (41,500 seats, for an amount between 155 and 160 million euros), and will approach – or exceed – the bill of the ‘Allianz Arena in Munich (75,000 seats, 345 million euros, three years of work).

Ali Haddad’s legal troubles inevitably led to the termination of the ETRHB group’s contract, and a new stoppage of the site for two years, until it resumed in 2021. In October, the Algerian company Cosider been tasked with completing the work by 2023.

CAN 2027: Algeria candidate?

Algeria has long been content with its aging stadiums, more or less well maintained, such as that of Blida (Mustapha-Tchaker) where the national team has played almost all its matches since 2008.

“It was time for the country to acquire new modern structures, meeting international standards. The main ones were built in the 1970s, like that of July 5, 1962 in Algiers (1972), or 1980 (Annaba),” continues Ali Fergani.

The last time it hosted the competition dates back to 1990, when only eight teams participated and two stadiums were enough. If the next two editions have been awarded to Côte d’Ivoire (2023) and Guinea (2025), it is not impossible that Algeria will apply for that of 2027.

the President of the Algerian Football Federation (FAF) Charafeddine Amara, recently confided that the body was studying the feasibility of a possible candidacy, before submitting it to the authorities of the country… “And if Guinea, as it is said, is not ready, Algeria could be, like the Morocco, an emergency solution for CAF”, concludes a well-informed leader of a federation.

This article first appeared on https://www.jeuneafrique.com/1329753/politique/algerie-la-course-contre-la-montre-pour-les-nouveaux-stades/

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