Ugly scenes erupted at Surestream Stadium (formerly MDC Stadium) in Chilomoni Township on Saturday soon after a Southern Region Football League (SRFL) Premier Division match between FC Surestream and Envirom.
Irate Envirom players physically attacked referee Andy Futeli and his assistants Smart Moses and Medison Chisale whom they accused of favouring FC Surestream who won 1-0
The three match officials were involved in running battles with Envirom players for about five minutes until some officials intervened and restored order. Chisale suffered an arm injury as a result of the fracas.
And in the heat of the moment, the referee flashed four red cards to Envirom players, including Frank Kadam’manja who started the whole fracas.
After tempers had calmed down, Envirom assistant coach Paul Kachingwe said it was clear that the referees threw their weight behind the host side.
“We were suspicious of Surestream even before the match because we heard that it is the same set of referees that officiate their home games and we raised our concern with the [Blantyre] district’s referees general secretary Mike Makoto and true to our fears, it was the same set that officiated the match and that is why one of the referees’ officials Mike Champiti came to watch the game.
“We were, therefore, not amused that they awarded Surestream a penalty, but denied us a clear one after a hand ball. We are of the view that it is a matter that needs to be looked into,” said Kachingwe.
But FC Surestream technical director Peter Mponda said there was nothing sinister.
“I know there are allegations of match-fixing, but that is all utter rubbish. If we buy referees how come we are beaten by teams such as Tigers Reserves and Chitakale and we recently drew with Green Hawks? By the way, Envirom lost 1-0 to Manghochi United last week through a penalty goal, does it mean the referee was also bought? It’s all witch-hunting emanating from petty jealous.
“The fact is that we have a good team with about nine [Under-20] national team players. We are not even among the top three teams, so why all this fuss?” said Mponda.
Champiti said he got wind of the allegations, but from his personal assessment, the referees’ performance was excellent.
“I went there in my individual capacity, but from what I saw the officiation was 100 percent good,” said Champiti.
SRFL vice-general secretary Kingsley Simbeye said he had already left the stadium when the fracas occurred.
“But it is definitely a disciplinary case because we do not tolerate violence and we’ll wait for reports from the relevant stakeholders,” said Simbeye.
Surestream were on fourth position as of yesterday with 28 points from 12 games and Envirom.