Red card! Suspended refs risk further sanctions

More sanctions await four Mzuzu-based referees that were found guilty of allegedly pocketing a K15 000 bribe to fix the Carlsberg Cup round of 16 match between Chitipa United and Nchalo FC at Mzuzu Stadium on July 13.

Northern Region Referees Committee (NRRC) disciplinary committee has suspended the officials—centre referee Azizi Nyirenda, his assistants Limbani Chisambi and Jimmy Phiri and fourth official Stephano Gomani.

Nyirenda in the line of duty

According to evidence presented during a hearing on July 22 2017, the cat was let out of the bag after Nchalo officials allegedly openly confronted the referees to return the money soon after losing 5-3 on post-match penalties. Only K10 000 was allegedly paid back.

The disciplinary hearing, chaired by Mabvuto Msimuko, who is also NRRC chairperson, found the four guilty of corruption and bringing the game of football into disrepute.

According to the verdict, Nyirenda and Chisambi (Grade 1) will serve two-month bans while Gomani (Grade 1) and Phiri (Grade 2) will serve four-month suspensions.

But Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said they expect more sanctions for the referees and Nchalo officials.

He said: “The regional bodies have done their part. That is within their jurisdiction. It is now up to the national bodies to take further action. Match fixing is a serious offence. These referees are highly respected and should have been exemplary. We are watching with keen interest the action that National Football Referees Association [NFRA] and Southern Region Football Association [SRFA] will take.”

NFRA general secretary Chris Kalichero said they  will take further action after getting the report from the regional committee.

“Actually what will happen is that our disciplinary committee will sit down to review the report  from NRRA and assess whether the punishment suits the offence and it is also the same committee that will decide to report the matter  to any other authority outside football such as Anti Corruption Bureau [ACB].”

ACB spokesperson Egritta Mdala said the the bureau can investigate the  issue if it is provided with relevant information.

On their part, Chisambi and Gomani said they were yet to get the verdict.

But Nyirenda said he never pocketed the money.

“I only heard that [some people] received money which they wanted to give me. Otherwise, I did not have anything to do with it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nchalo United general secretary Ernest Whayo said they will comment after receiving formal communication on the matter.

SRFA chairperson Raphael Humba said the Lower Shire-based side deserves a stiff punishment.

“We will summon them,” he said.

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