The mounting frustration by teams is worrisome

It is well that the Blantyre derby between arch rivals Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Be Forwward Wanderers, which was played at the neutral Bingu National Stadioum in Lilongwe on Sunday, ended peacefully as opposed to some games that finished on sour note following some skirmishes involving fans and team officials.

On Sunday, police had to fire tear gas following crowd trouble during the match between Mzuni FC and Civil Sporting Club played at Mzuzu Stadium all because the fans were unhappy with the officiation of referee James Chisunkha.

This is very unfortunate. The police need not resort to this forceful measure to control the crowd because it affects innocent people. The tear gas definitely filtered into Mzuzu Stadium’s surrounding residences where innocent children might have inhaled this awful gas.

Such occurrences deter more people from patronising football matches for fear of their lives. Even innocent motorists are targets of the frustration the fans that have been tear gassed.

Most of these frustrations at matches are to do with the decisions done by officiating personnel. Just last week, Kamuzu Barracks’ team official Francis Shaba is reported to have tried to assault referee Esther Zimba when she disallowed a goal for infringement during their 1-1 draw against Blue Eagles on Wednesday played at Nankhaka Ground in Lilongwe.

Her offence was that she gave the red card to Kamuzu Barracks’ coach Billy Phambala for unsporting behaviour when the coach tried to command his players to leave the field in protest of their disallowed goal.

Zimba judged this as an unsporting behaviour and I agree with her. No coach should ever encourage his players to leave the field over a call from the referee — no matter how bad it might be.

That kind of behaviour should not be condoned because as a grown up, we should be role models to the youths. Encouraging unsporting behaviour like this might go into the youngsters heads and believe it is normal and they would practise it elsewhere.

Also last week, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) punished Nyasa Big Bullets with a whopping fine of K1.5 million for unsporting behaviour of failing to control their supporters and for bringing the game into disrepute following some disturbances that occurred during their match against Silver Strikers at Civo Stadium held on July 16.

It is unfortunate that when teams badly need the revenue to enjoy participation in the top flight TNM Super League and reward their players handsomely, they end up losing this valuable revenue through fines.

I urge Sulom to look at these two cases very seriously and try to nip the rot in the bud. What we are asking is, who is to blame really? Is it the referees’ competence, or is that the officials and fans see things differently?
Yes, the teams must be punished for their offences but we should also try to find out what’s the root cause of this?

After the match between Silver and Bullets, according to the match assessor’s report, player Pilirani Zonda assaulted the same referee Esther Zimba but in her own report she never mentioned of the said assault but just said: “After the final whistle one of Nyasa Big Bullets player (sic) putting jersey number 22 namely Pilirani Zonda was decent by words however with the situation I failed to produce a caution for him”.

Why would the player be cautioned for being decent by words? Did she mean he was indecent, maybe?

The disciplinary committee decided not to punish Zonda because of the contradiction between the match assessor and the referee. One wrong word used in a report of that nature, distorts everything just like Zimba did.
She should have been explicit in saying what Zonda really did or said that warranted a caution and by indicating it in her report, it amounted to a caution even with the fact that she did not produce due to the situation she was in.

But her wording of the incident, saying Zonda “was decent by words” rendered the disciplinary committee helpless to punish the player and instead just gave Zonda a warning.
I have gone through several match referees’ reports and I found them very wanting in explanation. Some expressions they use are only understood by the referees’ themselves such that a layman fails to decipher what they are trying to say as was the case of “decent by words”.

Nip these incidents in the bud because the fear is, if they get to the two giants — Wanderers and Bullets — there shall be an explosion. We cannot afford that to happen.

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