The kick-off to the Malawi football season is set to wait for a review of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 next Thursday but the nataional football team, the Flames, has been given a go ahead to participate in Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and Fifa World Cup qualifiers under strict conditions, including playing the matches without supporters.
The empty stands will symbolise how the sport continues to be disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
But football authorities are seeking partial reopening of stadiums amidst pressure from fans across the country who were organising demonstrations to seek return to matches.
There is frustration among some clubs that Malawi government is imposing strict requirements before reopening stadiums while other sectors, such as travel and political parties adhere to less stringent demands.
“There are double standards. Look at other parts of society that are opening. People are sitting next to each other in buses, crowding in political rallies, but even social distance in in open air stadiums is not being allowed, thats unfair,” said Silver Strikers supporters chairperson Kingsley Malaya.
Malaya said they welcome the decision to partially lift the ban of football, saying it should signal the start of football life.
But unless fans return to stadiums soon, teams will face financial turmoil
“I think it’s going to be very difficult for any football club to operate without fans for any period of time because they rely on gate takins as revenue. Players have been suffering due to the economic impact of not playing football. But it is good news to hear thata the Flames is now start preparations,” said Blantyre-based Mighty Wanderers FC staunch supporter Yona Malunga
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) is undertaking complex scenario modelling to work out how to stick to strict government protocols, such as maintaining social distancing between supporters.
FAM president said lifting the ban of the Flmaes is “he first steo to get started.”
He said the situation is being “reviewed periodically.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :