The headline banner at the back of one of the daily papers of Monday August 31 2015 read ‘Carlsberg Cup final raises K29 million’. That banner immediately raised eyebrows of disbelief from both Mighty Wanderers and Big Bullets.
Left at that, one would be disappointed, albeit sizeably, especially considering that the final on August 29 2015 was one of the unprecedented cup finals because of some special developments. To begin with, Plot Number 2 was in attendance and with it came all the pomp, ceremony and high profile that government, as the biggest financier and stakeholder in sports, in general and football in particular commands for the simple reason that football is an enterprise that if effectively, transparently and professionally managed can transform the fortunes of many of our boys and girls.
Examples of positive dividends from the pursuit of professional sports abound. The likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Bolt, Lewis Hamilton, Serena Williams, Yaya Toure aside, we in Malawi celebrate our own Mwawi and Tabitha, flag carriers who demonstrate that sport must be engaged, administered and led with the most stringent of professionalism that we, as patriotic citizens can marshal.
As such, it was great that the Carlsberg Cup final was graced by strong government support, including the high command of the defence forces, No wonder, notwithstanding heavy disgruntlement by the losing finalist, there were no serious incidences of violence or chaotic behaviour. That is how it must always be and as such everyone went home safe. Those who did not win were satisfied in the faith that tomorrow is another opportunity to avenge the loss and also acknowledging that in a cup final there can only be one winner.
Two days later, the horror and the deep rooted rot of the system that is the leadership and institution running Malawian football was brought in the glare of the public spotlight.
What has horrified most Malawians, especially those of us that were part of the mammoth crowd at the match was a claim in the article that says in quote, “Surprisingly, only K1 million was realised from the VIP and covered stands”. The disbelief in this is that the mathematics, is far from adding up for the following reasons: just for the VIP only, two groups of fans, the Veep’s entourage paid K200 000 for twenty tickets (much as he could have gone there for free, but he paid for the love of promoting football). In addition to that, Team Mijiga and Africana Club bought thirty tickets worth K300 000. In total the combined 50 tickets from above meant K500 000 in receipt for the VIP stand alone already.
Now, one learns that the covered and VIP stands at Civo seat a combined more than 2 000 people. Therefore, taking the lower cost of a ticket at K5 000 for the covered stand and ignoring the higher VIP ticket of K10 000, the minimum that should have been realised from these two stands was K10 million.
That is why the K1 million purportedly declared sounds shockingly too low and a mockery to all Malawians. The two teams and all Malawians are, therefore, perfectly entitled that the truth be pursued and that every kwacha be accounted for. All football affiliates, administrators and especially the players on that day, players, officials and fans of the two teams demand justice and accountability by the leadership at Football Association of Malawi (FAM).
In instances such as these, the people in charge need to be pressed to come out in the open and be accountable to Malawians, because the revenue that has potentially been embezzled, belongs first to the football players, to all FAM affiliates and football administrators, sponsors and next to indeed every stakeholder in the football business and finally to all Malawians who fail to access drugs in hospitals because precious tax resources are being redirected to help FAM run the Flames, simply because FAM failed to safeguard and account for all resources it potentially generates both from within Malawi and outside. n