Concerned with continued high levels of hooliganism and violence at Karonga Stadium and for fear of further crowd violence disorder, the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has changed the venue for the FHD Bank Cup Round of 32 match between Karonga United and Be Forward Wanderers from Karonga Stadium to Mzuzu stadium.
FAM has noted that 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 it was vandalised on Sunday 20th June 2021 in a thrilling game that was marred by violence perpetuated by the home team.
Among others, the stadium’s perimeter fence and main access gates were vandalized and would make it impossible for the Match Organisers to protect the players and technical officials, control access into the stadium and enforce COVID-19 preventive measures.
“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.
FAM’s decision to shift the game to Mzuzu stadium comes hot on the wheels as there was a fracas at the Karonga Stadium at the weekend following an abandonment of a TNM Super League encounter involving Silver Strikers and Karonga United.
The referee wept.
The bankers were leading 1-0 courtesy of a second half goal from Blessings Tembo, until in the 87th minute when Karonga United were awarded a penalty at the same time a direct free kick.
Referee, Mercy Kayira pointed on the spot kick before a decision was changed three times from penalty, direct free kick and back to penalty.
Both teams disagreed, with Karonga on one hand saying: “You pointed on the penalty spot so it is a penalty for us.”
Silver Strikers on the other hand, vehemently protested that:” You changed decision to a direct free kick. So, it cannot be a penalty.”
Discussions did not yield any fruits, until supporters started pelting stones onto the field of play. Then, chaos ensued.
As one way of trying to restore order, the police fired teargas canisters, a thing that led to more fracases as Silver Strikers coaster was smashed with stones plus a Hilux which is used by their technical panel.
Silver Strikers players hide in their dressing room, which was also attacked by some supporters with stones.
Another group of supporters waited for them outside, where they pelted stones to the coaster.
The players were leaving the stadium around 6 o’clock evening.
This is not the first time for visiting teams to complain about the environment at Karonga Stadium.
Some weeks ago, Mighty Wanderers were denied to train at the stadium and some of their supporters from Mzuzu were manhandled.
This is the third match to be abandoned in three weeks, as Silver Strikers versus Red Lions game also ended before time.
In Mzuzu as well, Moyale Barracks vs Mighty Tigers match was also abandoned.
Football Violence generally associated with team sporting events and their outcomes possesses a documented history, going at least as far back as the Nika Riots during the Byzantine Empire.
The first instance of violence associated with modern team sports is unknown, but the phenomenon of football related violence can be traced back to 14th-century England. In 1314, Edward II banned football (at that time, a violent, unruly activity involving rival villages kicking a pig’s bladder across the local heath) because he believed the disorder surrounding matches might lead to social unrest, or even treason.
According to a University of Liverpool academic paper, conflict at an 1846 match in Derby, England, required a reading of the riot act and two groups of dragoons to effectively respond to the disorderly crowd. This same paper also identified “pitch invasions” as a common occurrence during the 1880s in English football.
The first recorded instances of football hooliganism in the modern game allegedly occurred during the 1880s in England, a period when gangs of supporters would intimidate neighbourhoods, in addition to attacking referees, opposing supporters and players.
In 1885, after Preston North End beat Aston Villa 5–0 in a friendly match, both teams were pelted with stones, attacked with sticks, punched, kicked and spat at. One Preston player was beaten so severely that he lost consciousness and press reports at the time described the fans as “howling roughs.”
In Malawi football crowd violence and hooliganism has been going on for years between rival supporters.
In December 2013 a football supporter was killed in a stampede and 20 more fans were injured in a match between Silver Strikers and Mighty Wanderers played at Balaka Stadium.
Six of those injured were in a serious condition after fans from Mighty Wanderers and Silver Strikers clashed at the stadium in Balaka, a town which is about 130 kilometres north of Blantyre.
Just like at the weekend in Karonga, in the 2013 Wanderers and Silver Strikers match, violence broke out in the second-half.
Again just like in last Saturday’s match between Silver and Karonga United, Silver Strikers were leading 1-0 at the time and were on course to claim the point they needed to clinch a third straight title when the match was abandoned through a disagreement over a referee’s decision.
The police were forced to intervene and used teargas to try and disperse the fans in the 6,000 seat stadium, which lead to a stampede.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :