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Concerns over referees’ relief pay disparities

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Divisions have rocked National Referees Association (NRA) over the disbursement of Football Association of Malawi’s (Fam) relief funds which were introduced as a bailout measure after sports activities were suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fam recently announced that it has set aside K350 million from Fifa’s Forward Program to help football players and officials following failure of the 2020 football season to kick off.

Through the arrangement, Fam will be providing monthly stipends of not less than government’s minimum wage (K35,000) to stakeholders such as players, technical panel members and referees.

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However, inside sources at the referees’ body indicate that the money would not be disbursed equally to the match officials.

“We are told that we will not get equal shares from the money. We understand that how much one will get depends on whether they are working or not. But this is not fair. We expected to get the same amount regardless of whether we are employed or not,” said one of the referees who opted for anonymity.

Fam met NRA, Super League of Malawi and regional associations to discuss the disbursement process last week.

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After meeting NRA, it was agreed that unemployed referees would be getting K40,000 each while those who are employed will pocket K20,000 as monthly stipends.

However, NRA General Secretary, Chris Kalichero, justified the unequal disbursement.

“It was a proposal that the relief package should be distributed depending on the status of each referee. Giving out equal amounts of money to all referees does not make sense because some are employed and get paid at the end of every month. We have to consider that those who are not working are among the worst casualties of the pandemic,” Kalichero said.

Ahead of the disbursement, regional referees’ bodies have already submitted lists of beneficiaries to NRA.

About 76 referees from the Central Region are expected to benefit from the funding whereas 64 from South will be on the list. The North will have 40 beneficiaries.

Fam referees sub-committee Chairperson, Rashid Ntelera, told local media that the issue of relief funds was being handled by a taskforce within the association.

TNM Super League teams are expected get a uniform package from the association despite some calls to consider giving more money to financially struggling clubs.

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