Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers, whose Kamuzu Stadium bans for hooliganism were lifted recently, will never pay for the damages they caused at the stadium following governmentâ€™s intervention.
Wanderers should have, in addition to an 18-game ban from the stadium, coughed K218 354 (about $1 307) for looting that took place at the stadium after the 0-1 loss to Red Lions last August whereas Bullets were supposed to pay K272 000 (about $1 628) for going on rampage after their 1-2 loss to Blantyre United last November.
But sources indicate that Kamuzu Stadium management was stopped from pursuing the damages due to the profile of the two teams in the public domain of which government has interest.
Some people fear the intervention sets a bad precedent.
Stadium manager Charles Mhango on Monday refused to comment on the matter, referring The Nation to Ministry of Youth Development and Sports. Last week, sports director Jameson Ndalama said he needed to verify on the same.
But the ministryâ€™s Principal Secretary Alex Mseka on Monday dismissed assertions that government gave Bullets and Wanderers preferential treatment due to their profile as crowd-pullers.
“The issue was resolved internally. I would not want to continue discussing this issue. If it was resolved internally, it means there are mechanisms in place [to meet repair costs]. We did this because we did not want to punish other teams that were facing Bullets and Wanderers; otherwise, we treat all teams equally across the board,” said Mseka.
Wanderers fans went on rampage after their loss to Red Lions on August 21 2011, forcing the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) to ban the Nomads for 18 home matches and hold them liable for damages.
Wanderers were supposed to pay fine for damaging 21 window glasses, four bib taps, 10 large toilet basis, seven toilet mirrors and 13 flash masters. Stadium management did the assessment in the presence of Wanderers and Sulom officials.
“As stadium owners, we are concerned about the covered stand toilets whereby almost all of them are not working since the flashing masters were stolen. People took advantage of the violence which your team supporters caused,” the ministry wrote to Wanderers on August 27 2011.
On December 1 2011, Sulom Disciplinary and Legal Committee also slapped Bullets with a ban at the stadium and further condemned them to “payment of K272 000 inclusive of payment of TNM billboards and stadium locks (4) in number, effective seven days from the date of this letter.”
The Bullets ban came some weeks after Sports Minister Symon Vuwa Kaunda called on Sulom to lift the sanctions on Wanderers, but the league body kept silent.
Towards the end of the season, Sulom announced that it had forgiven the two giants; hence, they could play at the stadium. Sulom general secretary Williams Banda recently referred the damages payment issue to stadium owners.
Wanderersâ€™ vice-general secretary Richard Kambalame and his Bullets counterpart, Higger Mkandawire, in separate interviews Monday and on Thursday insisted that they took governmentâ€™s intervention on their stadium bans to mean they would also not pay for the damages.
“While we do not condone violence, the issue of substandard officiation also needs to be addressed. Fans pay to watch games and if they feel betrayed by the referees, there is little that clubs can do to control hooliganism,” said Kambalame.