Former Football Association of Malawi (Fam) General Secretary (GS), George Kaudza Masina, has called for total cancellation of the 2020 season after it failed to kick off on March 21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kaudza Masina made the call in the wake of a supporters’ petition presented to Fam president Walter Nyamilandu, asking for commencement of the season by this weekend.
The petition compelled Fam to call for an executive committee meeting on Saturday to discuss recommendations by its Competitions and Marketing committees and a special committee on Covid-19.
The three bodies met last week and came up with recommendations on the future of the new season.
The petitioners gave Fam until May 31 to roll out the season or face unspecified action.
But Kaudza Masina said the season should be cancelled on safety grounds.
“Going by what World Health Organisation has said just a few days ago, the pandemic is here to stay and we must learn to live with it. To some, living with the pandemic could mean going back to our normal daily activities.
“But I choose to differ. We need to change our lifestyles if we are to defeat Covid-19. We need to continue observing all precautionary measures so that we stop the spread of coronavirus. In this case, I disagree with those who are calling for the commencement of the season. Let us not live in denial,” he said.
Kaudza Masina said now that the country’s infection figures have gone beyond 100, it would not make sense to start football activities which draw big crowds.
“At the time the State President [Peter Mutharika] declared a state of disaster [on March 20], the country had no cases of infections. But the government went ahead to suspend all sports activities as a preventive measure.
“Now we cannot be asking for commencement of the season when the number of cases keeps rising. The best way is to cancel the season and, if anything, start planning for the 2021 season,” he said.
However, two of the country’s biggest clubs, Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers, have not come out clearly on the matter.
Bullets Chief Administrative Officer, Albert Chigoga, only said his team will side with any decision to be made by authorities on the matter.
“We are a club that is law-abiding. We are also mindful about the importance of our players’ safety. We also have team officials and supporters whose well being must be taken into consideration. So when Fam and the government see to it that it is safe to commence the season, we will do so because that is the interest of the soccer fraternity,” Chigoga said.
Wanderers General Secretary, Victor Maunde, said it is unfortunate that football was in the current situation.
“We would have loved if our political leaders were the first to respect the preventive measures they put in place themselves in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19. Instead of leading by example, they are busy going around the country holding campaign rallies. This is what is igniting debate among the soccer fraternity as to why football is not being played when politicians are drawing thousands to their rallies,” Maunde said.
Fam General Secretary, Alfred Gunda, said it will be up to the executive committee to decide on the future of the 2020 season.
“The Fam executive committee is meeting as earlier communicated to discuss recommendations made by its three committees. Executive committee members will discuss whether it is ideal to restart football in three months or not,” Gunda said.
The meeting comes at a time when Tanzania has announced resumption of football from June 1.
The only football competition that has been played this year is the Energem International Bonanza which was won by Zimbabwean side Chicken Inn at Kamuzu Stadium.
Bullets, Wanderers and UD Songo of Mozambique were also part of the competition which took place in February.
Peter Fote is a Sports Journalist with huge experience in radio and Television reporting, production and presentation. He once worked with Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) and is currently working for Times Media Group.