In what analysts view is due to an act of dire stress, confusion and ‘fire fighting decisions’ from the Malawi’s soccer governing body, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and the country’s top league, the Super League of Malawi (Sulom), the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre has been closed to national games.
The swift move, according to the two soccer governing bodies, is aimed at reinforcing violence that seem to be gaining deep roots whenever teams from the Malawi Defense Forces (MDF) face Blantyre based civilian teams.
Barely a day after a fracas ensued at and around the Kamuzu Stadium, in Malawi’s commercial city of Blantyre, FAM and Sulom have come out in the open declaring the stadium closed to TNM super league and national cup games, a development that has not gone down well with the teams that has Kamuzu Stadium as their home ground, arguing it will impede on their already awkward finances.
“The decision has been reached out speedily and without proper consultations and we have some reservations in that because much as we would not subscribe to nasty incidents, we would also not want to applaud verdicts that will further spoil the game.
“Where did these people meet? When and how many? Their questionable decision will not only dampen the spirits of our teams but also stumble on our finances, which in a way killing the sport,” lamented an official of one of the Blantyre based teams.
In his reasoning, he observed that with the Kamuzu Stadium ban, financially his team will lose out to logistics like transport and meals expenses, in addition to the revenue collected from gate charges, as only few supporters will be patronizing their games outside their base.
“It is no hidden fact that expenses incurred for games played within Blantyre, where we also have a club house, and those outside the city, are different, even if we just talk of transport and meals here.
“At the same time the attendance by supporters to the games will be different as not many will be in a position to travel since transport expenses are huge and some people try to avoid travelling un necessarily due to the rising traffic accidents on our roads,” he explained.
He went on to lament that morally; the teams will also be affected as they will be missing the priceless winning catalyst which is in a supporter.
“Who can argue that supporters’ presence has an impact in a game? The presence of supporters has an enormous force to both their team and the opponents, and this dummy deliberate move to reduce this influence cannot just be let go.
“Obviously we will reciprocate because we have a country that need better fruits from the game and national decisions cannot just emerge from a few individuals, and surely this is not a one man’s show. We will first meet as a club then consults other affected and concerned stakeholders. We are not in a hurry as they have done but obviously, two wrongs cannot make a right,” he added.
But in their wisdom, FAM and Sulom have argued that they have suspended the use of the stadium following the continued acts of violence and hooliganism at the Kamuzu stadium has brought disrepute not only to the soccer bodies but sponsors as well.
“Sponsors have stressed that their continued stay in the game is dependent on violence free games as they would not want their brands to be associated with violence or ugly scenes.
“Therefore FAM and Sulom will not allow seeing their efforts going down the drain because of some disgruntled supporters who just want to dent the image of Malawi football and indeed that of the two bodies,” reads statement purportedly signed by secretary generals, Sudgo Nyirenda (FAM) and Williams Banda (Sulom).
Of late, there has been a cold war whenever MDF football teams invade the Kamuzu stadium, ironically two of the games involve the Lilongwe based Kamuzu Barracks (vs. Environ and Blantyre United) and other two involving Blantyre based Environ, which surprisingly does not command a large following of its own (vs. KB and Zomba based Red Lions).
The two soccer governing bodies are worried that if unchecked the differences could escalate and degenerate into unprecedented proportions.
Reads the statement in part: “We therefore realize the need to protect the lives of fans, civilians, and property, hence the suspension.”
But one soccer analyst was quick to counter argue that reading through the lines it shows that the two bodies do not want to scrutinize and then uproot the cause.
“Are they not clueless and also playing double standards? Looking at their summary, who is in the wrong and why wanting to protect civilians only? At football do we have men in uniform and civilians? Is it not players, officials, officiating personnel and supporters? What kind of reasoning is here? Who have authored the statement?” Reasoned ABC Yankho.
During the game, fans were outraged with the more than 10 minutes added time when the two teams were tied up at 2-2. Some resorted to throwing missiles in the field of play that caused the abandonment of the game and subsequent tear gassing and nasty incidents. Roads were impassable for a while as the nasty incidents spilled to the Kamuzu Highway and Makata road. There were however no reports of looting.
A day before the latest fracas, Blantyre based Big Bullets silenced KB with a 2-1 win in a game that saw rivals Mighty Wanderers players joining forces supporting the Bullets, a move that no one would dispute is another indicative factor of the ongoing feud between MDF and Blantyre based civilian teams, at the same time the pivot role that supporters play in a game of soccer.
In a related development, in the eastern district of Balaka, there were reports of some pockets of violence as another Blantyre based team, Mighty Wanderers played host to the central region lakeshore MDF side, Mafco FC, which the later triumphed with two straight goals.
Although the joint FAM and Sulom statement indicate that the decision will be reviewed before the end of the year, people feel that there will be some pressure on stadiums and logistics since the TNM Super League is in its maiden weeks of the second round, and the Standard Bank Cup is rolling out within the week.
“The stadium ban will also likely affect the scheduling of games at the other available Stadiums in the region; Kalulu in the hot lowers states of Chikhwawa, Zomba and Balaka in the eastern region, but all in all, the decision has been hastily made and I can see some reversal not long from now,” prophesied Yankho.
Newstime Africa will inform its esteemed readers as the events unfold. Comments are also welcome.
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