Karonga United risk a fine of MK2 million and a ban from participating in any competition organized by Football Association of Malawi (FAM) or any of its affiliates for one year following the team’s decision to withdraw from the inaugural FDH Knockout Cup competition.
The Karonga based side was scheduled to play Mighty Wanderers in the Round 32 of the competition at Karonga Stadium on Saturday only to be told by FAM that the match has now been shifted to Mzuzu Stadium because Karonga Stadium is not in good condition to host an elite match as per the FAM Club Licensing regulations and FAM COVID-19 Football Re- Start Guidelines, after the Stadium was vandalised on 20th June 2021.
“With the match just four days away, we are of the view that the damages cannot be renovated for re-inspection and re-certification, as per the FAM Club Licensing regulations, in time for the said match.
“It is against this background that the FAM Competitions Committee, as guided by article 8.1 of the FDH Rules and Regulations, has fixed the match at Mzuzu Stadium on Saturday 26th June 2021. All other protocols for the match will procced as arranged,” said FAM General Secretary Gift Gunda on Tuesday.
But reacting to the news, Karonga United through its Chairman Mathews Tulombolombo said FAM’s decision to shift the match to Mzuzu has nothing to do with the facility being damaged but rather, their own reasons.
Tulombolombo further confirmed that his team will not participate in the competition.
“You cannot make any decision without an assessment report which justifies your decision. We have experienced worst hooliganism in Blantyre, fighting, yelling obscenities or throwing objects into the field, breaking of glasses and perimeter walls at Kamuzu Stadium, recently during Wanderers FC and Nyasa Big Bullets but such decisions were not made up to today, let’s treat each other fairly and equally.
“Thus, since you have decided to shift our game to Mzuzu Stadium without proper justification, as Karonga United family, we are withdrawing from FDH Knockout Cup forthwith. It’s a painful decision but we don’t have any other option,” reads part of the statement released by the club on Wednesday.
This decision to pull out of the competition will violate article 4.8 of the Rules and Regulations which states that:
“As per Club Licensing Conditions it is compulsory for each Super League team to participate in the competition,” reads part of the Rules and Regulations of the competition.
According to article 4.6 of the competition, Karonga United could be fined MK2 million and banned from every competition organized by FAM and its affiliate for a period of one year.
“If any team withdraws, the team shall be liable to a fine of MK100 000 (One Hundred Thousand Kwacha) at regional level and MK2 000 000 (Two Million Kwacha) at national level, and in addition to the fine, the team shall be banned from participating in any competition organized by FAM or any of its affiliate bodies for a period of 1 year,” reads Article 4.6 of the Rules and Regulations for the competition.
On Sunday, there were running battles between Karonga United supporters and Police after their Super League match against Silver Strikers ended prematurely following a decision by referee Mercy Kaira to change her earlier decision to reward Karonga United a penalty for a direct freekick.
With the home team down 1-0, this did not go well with the supporters who started throwing objects inside the field of play, forcing the Police to come in before the abandonment of the match.
But FAM insists the decision was purely made on grounds that the facility is not fit to host the match.
“We were going to Karonga if the perimeter fence and Access Gates were intact. In fact, the venue was confirmed on Sunday at 21:00 hours after the Committee had seen all those clips and pictures from the Sunday game. A decision was made not to run away from the violence but go there and face it. We have done it before. The 2018 Carlsberg Cup match between the two teams at Karonga Stadium faced similar threats. Weeks before the match Bullets and Blue Eagles were harassed.
“There were calls to change the fixture. We insisted and went there and organised the match perfectly. So, on this one, it’s not about the violence but the facility is not fit enough to host the match,” one of the officials from FAM was quoted.
In a letter dated 21st June, 2021 seen by this publication addressed to Karonga District Council, FAM, Super League of Malawi plus others, Ngwira revealed the substantial damages to the facility in the aftermath of the violence.
“From my own primary general assessment, the window louvers in the Stadium Manager’ office, all dressing rooms and their toilets, the door rim locks at Manager’ office, store room door and the main toilet doors, sink tabs in the toilets and all gates got damaged on that day,” reads part of the letter.
He also revealed that the Perimeter wire fence around the playing field, fence and its gates and padlocks also got damaged during the fracas.