Preliminary assessments show that at least 70 seats were damaged following vandalism that occurred at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe on Saturday during the Airtel Top 8 quarter-final first leg between Silver Strikers and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.
The facility’s manager Ambirike Mwaungulu said in an interview yesterday that while the assessment of the damage was still underway, they estimate that it could be at least K10 million.
He said: “Seventy seats were damaged and 16 of them were thrown around the facility and the estimated cost of one seat is K150 000, including fixing charges, which translates to K10 million or thereabouts.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Youth and Sports says the facility risks being banned from hosting international games by Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Fifa due to the effects of the damage.
In a statement signed by Principal Secretary Isaac Katopola, the ministry says being the only approved stadium in the country, the Malawi National Football Team could be affected heavily if it is closed.
Reads the statement in part: “Government condemns in strongest terms the unruly scenes and destruction of property that took place at BNS in Lilongwe on Saturday.
“Much as the ministry understands that football is an emotional game and fans are an integral part, the behaviour displayed at the stadium is retrogressive, unacceptable and uncivilised.”
Katopola said acts of this nature puts many lives at risk and tarnishes the image of the sponsors, who compliment government’s efforts to develop sports in this country.
He said: “If it [the facility] is vandalised and closed, or condemned, the Malawi National Football team will be playing all its home matches outside the country.
“This will deprive citizens of their right to football entertainment and economic development of the country that come from the sports industry.”
The ministry has since asked different stakeholders such as clubs, Football Association of Malawi, Malawi National Council of Sports, Malawi Police Service and the public to join hands in eradicating theft and violence in sports facilities and bring the perpetrators of violence to justice.
“We look forward to a thorough enquiry and that those found guilty should be heavily punished and made to pay for maintenance of damaged property at the BNS,”reads the statement.
FAM also issued a statement yesterday condemning the acts of vandalism.
Part of the statemenr reads: “The acts of hooliganism and vandalism that were perpetrated by a section of supporters who were not happy with the referee’s decision were uncalled for and put the game of football into disrepute.
“FAM would like to inform all stakeholders that investigations are in progress to ascertain what happened and ensure that appropriate measures are taken.”
In an interview on Sunday, Wanderers board secretary Chancy Gondwe distanced the club’s supporters’ from the fracas, saying: “That must be the role of the security officers. That’s why they are paid to control any violent conduct.
“What did the security officers do ? Have they arrested anyone ? How do you conclude that they are Wanderers supporters or fans ? I doubt if those are our fans. If indeed they are our fans, we have systems and procedures that we follow in order to discipline them.”
The match was abandoned in added time when referee Godfrey Nkhakananga appeared to have blown his whistle for an infringement, but play continued, leading to Silver scoring their second goal.
The referee awarded the goal, but Wanderers players and technical staff protested against the decision, leading to the abandonment of the game.