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Social Media Responds to Photos of Zimbabwe Rugby Team Sleeping on the Streets in Tunisia

Photos of Zimbabwean Rugby Team sleeping on the streets trigger discussions about how African athletes are treated on the continent.

In the midst of the World Cup frenzy, photos of the Zimbabwean Rugby team sleeping in the streets of Tunisia brought up questions about how athletes in other sports are treated on the continent.

On Monday night, the Zimbabwean rugby team slept on the streets of Tunisia because of the poor facilities in their hotel accommodation and the team's lack of funds. The team had also been held up for hours at the airport in Tunisia after the authorities said that they had to pay a visa fee of 20 euros ($23) each.


On Tuesday, Rugby Africa and the Tunisia Rugby Union offered an apology to the team saying, "Rugby Africa has been made aware of the difficulties encountered by the Zimbabwean Rugby team—the Sables—with regards to their accommodation in Tunisia. 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...This does not reflect the standards of the Rugby Africa Gold Cup competition and we sincerely regret any prejudice caused."

The President of Rugby Africa Abdelaziz Bougja also said "Our hosting agreements are signed by the six participating unions in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup and are very clear and strict in terms of accommodation standards. We rely on our unions to make sure the requirements are met and it is unfortunate that it seemed not to be the case with this hotel in Tunisia."

This week, photos of the Zimbabwe Rugby team circulated on social media. The spectacle of these players sleeping by the road side next to their suitcases stirred discussions around the politics of sports management, how funding is allocated, and how Africans travel in foreign African countries.

Many debates on social media raised questions about the various organizations that should be held accountable for the Zimbabwean teams circumstances. Alongside critiques of the Tunisia Rugby Union, many Zimbabweans also blamed the Zimbabwean government for their lack of support for athletes in the country.

The photos highlighted the challenges African athletes face while traveling around the continent, and hopefully these discussions will result in significant change.




Image via Sheila Afari PR.

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