Be Forward Wanderers have asked the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) and Football Association of Malawi (FAM) to back them in apologising to their sponsors Be Forward over acts of violence that occurred twice in their presence..
Wanderers vice-general secretary Chris Kananji confirmed on Monday that Be Forward officials are concerned that on the two occassions that they have visited Malawi to watch the team, they have been greeted by tear gas at Kamuzu Stadium.
The Nomads’ sponsorship launch game against Silver Strikers exploded into violence in March with the second incident happening on Sunday in the presence of Be Forward group sales manager EiiMizuyama and marketing officer Shogo Nishimura from Japan. Play was stopped twice due to tear gas police fired outside the stadium while battling crowd trouble.
“Last time we apologised to the sponsors and this time they also left very worried. In both incidents, Wanderers did not cause the violence. Now we need someone influential to apologise on our behalf. May be it will carry weight. We do not know the consequences of this, but they think their coming is connected to the violence. You cannot blame them for thinking that way,” Kananji explained.
Wanderers general secretary Mike Butao, who could not be reached earlier on Monday, yesterday insisted that the violence has not affected their relationship with Be Forward as the sponsors witnessed for themselves that Nomads were not the perpetrators.
“Our sponsors are disappointed, but not unhappy. Disappointed because the picture coming out from the two visits would seem to suggest that football in Malawi is a violent game. They are happy because in both incidents Wanderers players, officials and fans were innocent victims. In the first incident, we all know who perpetrated the violence. It was people who thought they could sabotage the sponsorship,” Butao explained.
Sulom treasurer and acting general secretary Tiya Somba-Banda said while Wanderers have not sought the league’s help, “we will sit down with [sponsors] and to highlight and emphasise that football in Malawi is relatively a violence-free sport and the isolated incidents at Kamuzu Stadium were not even related to football.”
Kananji said there was need for Sulom and FAM to pro-actively intervene when something is threatening football sponsorship at all levels. There was no immediate response from FAM and Be Forward representative Tione Vitsitsi.