BY PETER KANJERE:
Nyasa Big Bullets president, Konrad Buckle, Wednesday released a statement condemning their fans for tarnishing the club’s image through their acts of violence, which he also apportioned to ‘dubious’ officiation.
However, analysts have argued that the condemnation of the violence that flared at Bingu National Stadium during Sunday’s Airtel Top 8 final, between Bullets and eventual 1-0 winners Blue Eagles, has been watered down by the questioning of the officiation.
Angry Bullets’ supporters damaged equipment at the Lilongwe stadium, beat up police officers and referee Misheck Juwa for awarding Eagles a penalty which Stuart Mbunge converted after defender Yamikani Fodya was adjudged to have fouled Gilbert Chirwa.
A video clip seems to show Fodya clearing the ball first before bundling Chirwa to the floor in what appears to be a collision.
In a statement released Wednesday, Buckle says they condemn the fans for the violence as it dents the team’s image.
“Violence goes against what we stand for. It also tarnishes the reputation of the club and the millions of well-mannered supporters who make up the Nyasa Big Bullets’ family. We, therefore, appeal [sic] and implore all our supporters to desist from any unsporting behaviour. We are committed to work[ing] together with the Football Association of Malawi [Fam] and law enforcement agencies to look at the clips and identify what caused the mayhem,” Buckle says.
Buckle also urges Fam to ensure that competent referees handle games.
“It is our view that the incident was avoidable had the FA [Football Association] taken precautions prior to the match by identifying and allocating competent officiating personnel. The upward trend of increasing [cases of] violence at our stadiums has been noted with great concern, through dubious decisions made by match-day referees,” Buckle says.
However, Fam only organises cup matches with National Referees Association (NRA) allocating referees through its regional committees. Match assessors rate referees and those who underperformed are punished.
At the World Cup in Russia, referees consult Video Assistant Referees to aid decision making in controversial incidents, which they miss.
Fam acting Competitions Manager, Casper Jangale, yesterday said they might come up with charges for the perpetrators of the violence by the end of the week.
“We have received reports from all stakeholders and the Fam Disciplinary Committee will meet to come up with the charges. We ask Malawians to be patient because Fam will take action on the matter,” Jangale said.
NFA General Secretary, Chris Kalichero, Wednesday said their Executive Committee would meet before coming up with a position on Bullets’ press release.
“We want to see as to what the actual problem was for people to damage property. Those were serious incidents. My personal opinion is that the referee got the decision right. There was body contact. But let us wait for the association to come up with a position on the matter,” Kalichero said.
Football analyst, George Kaudza Masina, yesterday punched holes into Bullets’ press release.
“It has diluted the whole essence of the apology. No matter what, the reaction of their fans was wrong. When you are offended, people judge you based on your reaction. Bullets are becoming a professional club and they are supposed to behave in a professional manner.
“Referees are making mistakes at the World Cup but people are not reacting. They take it on their chin. The worst culprit is Walter Nyamilandu [Fam president] because he said the violence happened due to a controversial decision. By saying that, he is being judgemental on the referees,” Kaudza-Masina said.
Seasoned football journalist, Madalitso Phiri, of Capital Radio yesterday welcomed Bullets’ stance.
“It is an attempt to clear their image. It is good to condemn violence but are they being sincere? They started the statement well. They should have gone ahead to say the referees’ decision is final but they have diluted their own statement. In the statement, they are pushing the blame on referees. It is like saying ‘I condemn my child for stealing but he was tempted’,” Phiri said.
Bullets supporters were also involved in violence last year after they were booted out of Airtel Top 8 quarter-final match against Silver Strikers at Mulanje Park Stadium.—Additional reporting by Williams Gondwa
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