In recent years, there has been resentment towards Malawi Defence Force (MDF) teams mostly because they are accused of intimidating their opponents and usually react violently when they are involved in fracas with civilian teams.
Just last season, an innocent life was lost after a match between Big Bullets and Red Lions turned sour after some fans destroyed Red Lions’ team bus and in retaliation, some soldiers left their base at the nearby military camp and started beating up anyone they encountered around the stadium.
A young man they found close to the Chichiri Shopping Mall was badly assaulted and died from his wounds.
What is being perceived as a simple issue of misunderstandings as to what time one team between hosts Mafco and visitors Nyasa Big Bullets were supposed to access the matchday Chitowe Stadium pitch for training, reportedly turned ugly last Friday.
It was reported that, as per rules, the away team — in this case Bullets — were supposed to feel the pitch in the afternoon ahead of the Carlsberg Cup quarterfinal game, but it was reported that Mafco refused them to do so.
It is reported that a disagreement ensued in which three Bullets players namely Fischer Kondowe, Aimeble Nayikiza and goalkeeper Chimwemwe Kunkwawa are said to have been beaten by Mafco players — an allegation which Mafco vehemently refuse to confirm whether it took place.
However, Football Association of Malawi (Fam), through its competitions sub committee, quickly reacted and cancelled the match, saying the association has opened investigations on the matter and will duly communicate on the way forward as regards to the fixture.
It has also come to the surface that in 2013, Mighty Be Forward Wanderers players, Alfred Manyozo, Bongani Kaipa and goalkeepers trainer Vales Kamzere, were also beaten by Mafco players when they wanted to train on the pitch ahead of a league game.
However, Mafco were not punished on this and the game went ahead the following day.
In their defence, Mafco team manager Lieutenant Gulaimfa adds a new twist to the whole saga, saying they suspect Fam has taken advantage of what happened in order to shift the game to somewhere else of the assiciation’s choice to favour Bullets.
He accused Fam that they tried to convince Mafco to accept that the quarterfinal match should be played in Lilongwe at Civo Stadium rather than at Chitowe, which happens to be Mafco’s home ground.
Gulaimfa now alleges that Fam competitions manager Gomezgani Zakazaka tried to entice Mafco after they beat Moyale in the round of 16, to stage the quarterfinal against Bullets at Civo Stadium where the game can make more money from gate takings but Mafco refused.
In the opinion of Mafco, Fam just cancelled the match following the fracas last Friday just so that the game should be played elsewhere.
Well, well, well. Maybe Mafco may have a point but Fam should not be swayed by this because what happened at Chitowe was very unfortunate. This is just sport and no violence is condoned. If indeed it is proven that the three players were indeed assaulted by Mafco, then justice must be done.
Whether the match will be shifted elsewhere or reverted to Chitowe, a tough action must be taken by everyone involved in this unfortunate incident.
How many times are we going to remind teams and supporters of the repercussions of violence at football venues? Don’t we remember that Carlsberg once pulled out their sponsorship because of violence? Do we need a repeat of that when football suffered after other sponsors also pulled out their support?
What MDF teams should be aware of is that the public now has negative attitude towards them. Some are arguing that the MDF teams, Mafco, Red Lions, Moyale, Kamuzu Barracks should participate in their own league where they can be joined by others such as Cobbe Barracks, MDF marine, Support Battalion, Changalume Barracks and others.
This is the type of resentment the civilian public has over MDF teams. However, the bitterness over MDF teams is also because these four teams are currently doing well and those in lower league, Cobbe Barracks, MDF Marine, Support Battalion, Changalume Barracks have all the chances of qualifying into the TNM Super League.
That would translate into eight teams from MDF alone. So then, the argument goes, why don’t they have their own separate league.
All this must not be ignored in solving the Friday fracas. The authorities must look ahead and adhere to what world football governing body, Fifa, suggested that there are just too many MDF teams in the league and Fam must decide to keep just one.
The rest of the teams can participate in their own league and become feeders to the lone Super League team.
All I can say is, there is need to resolve this issue with very sober minds, otherwise the frequency at which MDF teams are involved in such incidents is worrisome.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :