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Fifa recommends stadium turf removal

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World football governing body, Fifa, ha s— in what is a potential hammer blow to Blantyre teams— declared the Kamuzu Stadium artificial turf as ‘worn out’ and recommended its removal.

Football Association of Malawi (Fam) chief executive officer, Suzgo Nyirenda , confirmed that Fifa had declared the turf, which was installed in 2007, as ‘worn-out’ and not suitable for international standards.

“It is clear that the life-span of the artificial turf is over. It was given a life span of eight years and those eight years have elapsed. There is a proposal that we have to consider installing a new turf at the stadium,” he explained yesterday.

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Nyirenda said the association was yet to come up with the blueprint for the artificial turf re-installation project. Fifa delegates inspected the turf last month, hence the recommendation.

“We are looking at the modalities for the exercise. We have to make long-term plans. We are hopeful that next year all national team matches will be played at the Bingu Stadium in Lilongwe,” he said.

“At the same time, Kamuzu Stadium is expected to undergo some renovations. We believe that could be the period that the artificial turf can be replaced.”

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Fifa funded the installation of the turf at $700,000 (about K350 million) in 2007 Fifa through the Win In Africa, With Africa (Wiawa) project. This time around, the project would be funded by Malawi alone.

“Either Fam or the stadium owners, government, will be responsible for funding the project. We will sit down with government to see how the project will be handled,” Nyirenda said.

Jameson Ndalama, sports director in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, said government was yet to be communicated on Fifa’s recommendation.

“We handle the project together with Fam, therefore, we have to sit down to look at all the modalities. It is a welcome development and, as government, we want to see the stadium in a good condition,” he said on Monday.

The ministry could not commit on funding the turf re-installation with Ndalama adding that “we have to get a report from the stadium management and Fam before making a commitment.”

Kamuzu Stadium supervisor, Charles Mhango, said the stadium management was not briefed on the plans to remove the turf.

“We are aware that the turf is wearing out, but we have not been involved in the inspection exercise. We are hoping to get a report from Fam on the recommendation,” he said.

Last year, Mhango raised concerns on the condition of the turf after noting that “every time we are brushing the turf, the grass fibres get broken. The more we brush, the more fibres will be broken.”

Several clubs have complained of ‘freak’ injuries to their players because of the turf condition.

Big Bullets technical director, Billy Tewesa, admitted yesterday that players complain about the condition of the turf “and if is removed then, it has to be done quickly otherwise most teams in Blantyre will suffer as there is no alternative venue.”

The equipment for maintaining the turf also got damaged years back. Fifa and Caf recently declared the whole stadium as unfit to host international matches.

The Flames date Tanzania in a World Cup qualifier in October at Kamuzu Stadium in what could be their last competitive match at home this year. The Lilongwe stadium opens this November.

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