Sports analysts in the country have faulted the Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) verdict on Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, describing it as harsh and unrealistic.
FAM on Thursday morning fined Wanderers about MK24 million for instilling violence during a first Airtel Top 8 season 6 quarter final, protesting what they called a dubious goal, a situation which left about 239 chairs at Bingu National Stadium damaged.
Critics argue that the punishment meted out by FAM is excessively severe and could be detrimental to the sport’s growth and development within the country.
In an interview with Nthanda Times, Parry Chinyama, a prominent voice in the football community, has expressed his disapproval of FAM’s decision, stating that the punishment is overly harsh and potentially damaging to the sport.
He contends that the incident’s focal point was the referee’s conduct, leading to questions about FAM’s culpability in the matter and the necessity of such a substantial fine on Mighty Wanderers.
“The punishment is too harsh, and FAM is killing football in the country. The centre of controversy was the referee, and FAM has faulted the referee for his actions, yet they are heavily fining Mighty Mukuru Wanderers,” said Chinyama.
Chinyama’s concerns extend to the broader policies and regulations surrounding fines within FAM, suggesting that a thorough review of these policies is warranted.
Chinyama believes that such decisions raise questions about the consistency and fairness of FAM’s rulings.
“There is a need for FAM to revisit their rules, regulations, and policies to do with fines, because they are giving unrealistic verdicts.
“Another example is what happened in the second season of Airtel top 8 at the same BNS when Bullets played against Blue Eagles. There was no sort of match abandonment, but Bullets was banned from taking part in the competition for a season. So FAM needs to revisit their rules and regulations,” added Chinyama.
Another Sports Analyst Christopher Njeula has acknowledged the validity of the punishment according to Airtel top 8 rules.
However, he has voiced unease about the financial implications of the fine.
Njeula has suggested that FAM should have investigated the number and condition of the damaged chairs, which contributed to the hefty fine imposed on Mighty Mukuru Wanderers.
Additionally, he finds it economically unjustifiable for a team to be fined an amount exceeding the reward for winning the cup.
“It does not make economic sense for a team to be fined MK24 million in a cup in which a winner goes away with MK17 million. This is unrealistic. It’s just a matter of applying the rules and regulations. FAM has done the right thing, but before releasing the verdict, there was a need to engage an independent auditor to find out if really all the said chairs were in good condition before the game. Otherwise, the stadium management can take an advantage over the issue,” said Njeula.
In a separate interview, Wanderers Secretary Chauncy Gondwe has expressed scepticism about the decision-making process within FAM.
He insinuated that the committee’s affiliations with certain teams may influence their decisions. Gondwe’s comments raise questions about the integrity and transparency of FAM’s disciplinary actions.
Gondwe however said the team’s decision on the verdict will be known when they discuss and engage relevant stakeholders.
“We anticipate that the decision will be made in this way because we know the people in the committee and their teams’ affiliations. We have received the verdict and we will go through it. We will consult relevant stakeholders and we will communicate our decision through relevant stakeholders. But we are surprised if the decision has been made in good faith, or there was some influence,” said Gondwe.
In the verdict, FAM has declared Silver Strikers as the winners of the match, citing Wanderers’ players’ refusal to continue play, which they deemed a violation of Article 10.3 of the 2023 Airtel Top 8 Rules and Regulations.
Alongside this decision, Wanderers has been fined K500,000.00 due to their supporters’ unruly behavior. Additionally, FAM has ordered the club to cover the costs associated with the repair and restoration of any damaged facilities at Bingu National Stadium, amounting to K22,083,400.00 according to the preliminary assessment by the stadium authorities.
Furthermore, Mighty Wanderers faces a substantial fine of K2,000,000 for tarnishing the reputation of the game, FAM, and the tournament’s sponsors. FAM has also noted that the Referees’ Committee is currently reviewing the conduct of the referee, Nkhakananga, and assures that appropriate measures will be taken in response to this matter.
Meanwhile, the two teams are expected to meet in a return leg on 21st October 2023 at Kamuzu Stadium.
In other fixtures of the first round, Moyale Baracks will host Blue Eagles on 30th September at Rumphi, Kamuzu Barracks visits Mafco on 1st October, and Civil Service United will host FCB Nyasa Big Bullets on 11th October at a venue to be announced.