Airtel Malawi Limited has condemned violence that occurred on Sunday at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe during the Airtel Top 8 final between Nyasa Big Bullets and Blue Eagles.
Ugly scenes erupted when Stuart Mbunge netted the winner for the Malawi Police Service (MPS)-sponsored side from a spot-kick awarded after Bullets’ Yamikani Fodya fouled Gilbert Chirwa in the box. The decision infuriated some Bullets fans and players who were seen physically assaulted referee Mischeck Juwa while others threw objects on the pitch.
Police were engaged in running battles with the supporters as they tried to restore order, forcing the trophy and medals presentation ceremony to delay by nearly an hour.
Airtel Malawi managing director Charles Kamoto said: “We would like to issue a warning….a serious warning against the acts of violence.”
And addressing journalists after the ceremony, which Bullets players boycotted, Kamoto said they were disappointed with the violence.
“We condemn the violence because it dented an otherwise exciting final. We believe that the organiser [Football Association of Malawi] is going to investigate this and will later take action,” he said.
Kamoto, however, said his company was pleased with the spirit of competitiveness in the tournament.
“The standard of play improved a lot and competition was also high. It is only the ugly moments during the final that dented the competition,” he said.
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu joined in condemning the violence, describing it as unjustifiable.
“There was a controversial decision towards the end of the match. But, no matter what, violence was not a solution. There are always gentle ways of complaining against decisions,” he said.
Nyamilandu also urged those that perpetrated violence to do a soul-searching and avoid acting in barbaric way in future.
“I know those that were involved in this fracas will look in the mirror and regret playing their role in this. I believe that those supporters will avoid such conduct in future,” he said.
The FAM president said the issue will have to go through the disciplinary committee.
“The competitions committee will issue a statement soon on the process and time lines,” he said.
Bullets chief executive officer Fleetwood Haiya said they will issue a statement on the matter.