Government has called for a crisis meeting this Sunday to resolve the issue emanating from the violence that occurred during a recent Super League match between Mighty Wanderers and Silver Strikers in Balaka.
However, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu and his Super League of Malawi (Sulom) counterpart Innocent Bottoman expressed ignorance on the matter.
Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana said government is concerned with the continued acts of violence that culminated in the death of a fan Lemiyasi Josita during the Balaka fracas as well as how Sulom Disciplinary Committee handled the case.
Chihana said they have invited Malawi National Sports Council, FAM, Sulom and Super League clubs to the meeting at Malawi Sun Hotel in Blantyre.
“Things were getting out of hand hence this meeting. I have made it clear [before] that as government, we do not like to interfere in football matters. But when things get out of hand, we have to come in and create a conducive atmosphere for football,” said Chihana in a telephone interview.
He added: “Much as we condemn violence in the strongest terms, we are also not in agreement with the punishment given by the Sulom Disciplinary Committee. The punishment is very hash and will kill football instead of acting as a deterrent.”
The minister said the meeting will discuss the verdict and also find a lasting solution to the problem of violence.
“Each team will have three representatives, two from the executive committee and one from the supporters committee.
“It is important that supporters of the clubs be represented and their input will also be appreciated. We have to solve the violence issue once and for all. Supporters are key elements into solving that,” said Chihana who will be accompanied by officials from his ministry.
However, Nyamilandu and Bottoman said they were not aware of the meeting.
“It is news to me. Honestly, we are not aware of any meeting. I am yet to see a letter of the meeting.
“For us, the matter is in the hands of Sulom who are supposed to hear the appeals. It will only be referred to FAM after they have exhausted all issues,” said the FAM president.
Bottomani said: “I do not know anything pertaining to that meeting. All I know is that the issue is at an appeal stage following FAM’s directive.
“Our understanding is that if the clubs will not be satisfied by the outcome of the appeal, then it will have to be referred to FAM. I believe that is the procedure.”
A soccer commentator Kalvin Moyo said: “With due respect to government, I think they will be jumping the gun if they intervene at this point because all the necessary avenues have not yet been exhausted. This can be viewed as government interference.”
Wanderers and Silver were banned for five and eight months respectively. The Nomads were also slapped with a K700 000 fine while the Bankers were fined K2.95 million by the Sulom Disciplinary Committee.
Both teams have since appealed against the verdict. n