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'They started complaining as soon as they arrived': Tunisia Rugby hit back after Zimbabwe's 'disgusting hotel' claims

Tunisia say they made every effort to accommodate Zimbabwe after they complained about ‘the state of the bathroom in one of the rooms, the lack of a swimming pool and the low internet speed’.

TUNISIA RUGBY, WHO yesterday apologised after their opponents Zimbabwe slept on a Monastir street, today issued a stinging riposte on the issue.

Images of players, travelling for a World Cup qualifier, camped on a street with claims that they had been ‘held at the airport for six hours’ over visa fees went viral yesterday and led Rugby Africa to issue a apology to Zimbabwe.

“The Tunisian Rugby Union expresses its deep regret for this unfortunate event and strongly deplores the anti-sports and unethical actions of the Zimbabwean delegation which do not reflect the strong ties of friendship between the two countries,” said a statement released this afternoon after a point-by-point response to Zimbabwean complaints.

The statement says that the original hotel chosen for Zimbabwe’s accommodation is a two star hotel, but that meets the requirements set out in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup tournament manual and that no problem was reported until three hours after the squad checked in.

Tunisia Rugby also claim that the Zimbabwean delegation had been made aware of the entry visa costs which would be incurred on arrival at the airport.

Here is the fire-stoking statement issued today:

It is important to note that the delegation of Zimbabwe started complaining as soon as they arrived on the 2 July 2018 at 12.00 at the Tunis Carthage airport.

Indeed, the head of the delegation refused to pay the entry visa fees on Tunisian territories (60 dinars (€19.50) per person) explaining that he did not have the amount requested knowing that the Tunisian union had previously informed Rugby Africa by mail on the 8th of June 2018, informing them on all these procedures that go beyond the prerogatives of the union.

Nevertheless, the head of the delegation persisted in not paying these fees, which caused a long delay for the members of the delegation and a four-hours delay. We had to contact CEO of Rugby Africa who spoke on the phone with the head of the delegation of Zimbabwe who subsequently agreed to pay the invoice of the visa fees. It is important to note that these visa procedures are common between African countries.

After a lunch offered by the Tunisian Union to its guests, an air-conditioned bus transfer was ensured for the members of the Zimbabwe delegation to the city of Béjà. They arrived at the hotel around 20:00, checked in at reception and all the members of the delegation of Zimbabwe were entitled to a dinner, until then no problem was reported.

Around 23:00, the head of the Zimbabwean delegation expressed reservations about the state of the bathroom in one of the rooms, the lack of a swimming pool and the low internet speed. So, he started talking about leaving the hotel on the pretext that it is not decent enough for his team.

The quick intervention of the president and three members of the organizational committee was not enough to calm him down and convince him to spend the rest of the night at the hotel, ensuring that they would find solutions in the next morning with the possibility to change the hotel. Instead, he asked all the members of the delegation to take out their luggage, leave the hotel and spend the night outside on the ground.

Unfortunately, local officials have tried to talk and negotiate with the head of delegation but remained unsuccessful.”

The North African side add that the alternative solution – the Al Rawabi Hotel, which does have a swimming pool – was offered to the Zimbabwean delegation at 06.30 the following morning and the visitors ‘expressed their satisfaction’.

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Sean Farrell

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