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Mist over Infantino’s cancelled Malawi tour

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MADE A U-TURN—Infantino

Mist has shrouded the postponement of Fifa President, Gianni Infantino’s visit to Malawi.

Infantino was expected to inaugurate Mpira Stadium in Blantyre yesterday, but cancelled his visit at the 11th hour due to safety reasons.

In a statement, Football Association of Malawi (Fam), said the cancellation of the trip was as a result of ongoing rehabilitation works at Chileka International Airport in Blantyre.

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However, Department of Immigration in the country says they were not aware of Infantino’s itinerary as they were not advised in advance that the Fifa boss would arrive through Chileka Airport.

Immigration spokesperson, Blessious Ayinane, confirmed the development but added that bigger aircrafts cannot land at Chileka Airport as it was under construction.

“As Immigration Department we are not aware that Fifa President Gianni Infantino was to land at Chileka Airport today [Tuesday] we are also reading from the media.

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There are rehabilitation works taking place at the Airport including the main runway and that bigger planes like South African Airways, cannot land here; only Bombardier( small plains can use this Airport,” he said.

Quizzed on whether office of Fifa or Fam informed them of Infantino’s visit, Asiyane said they were not notified.

“They did not inform us. We could have advised them earlier,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fam General Secretary, Alfred Gunda Wednesday issued a statement, announcing the postponement.

“This is due to the ongoing rehabilitation works on the Chileka International Airport main runway which makes it not possible for the Presidential Jet carrying the Fifa President and his entourage to land. After carrying out a full assessment of the secondary runway, Fifa Aviation at the last minute ruled that they couldn’t take a chance to land at Chileka Airport for safety reasons,” Gunda said in the statement.

“Alternative efforts to have the plane land at Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe and use other means to transport the delegation to Blantyre were not successful due to the tight schedule of the Fifa President who was expected to arrive in the country at 2pm and leave at 7pm for Democratic Republic of Congo.”

While in the country, Infantino was expected to among other things tour Fifa funded projects including Chiwembe Technical Centre and launch Fam Football Academy.

Eto’o sample traditional hats in Lesotho Wednesday

The Fifa boss was also expected to be accompanied by Cameroon legend Samuel Eto’o and other high profile officials.

Confederations of African Football (Caf) President Ahmad Ahmad, Fifa General Secretary Fatma Samoura, Deputy Secretary General Football, Mattias Grafstrom, Fifa Acting Head of Communication Onofre Costa, Fifa Presidents office Manager Federico Raviglione and Fifa Regional Development Officer David Fani.

Meanwhile, Flames legends Ernest Mtawali and Patrick Mabedi were set for the showpiece.

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