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NGO against BB sponsorship

Local non-governmental organisation, Drug Fight Malawi, has urged Big Bullets to look for alternative sponsorship instead of engaging in a deal with tobacco manufacturers, Nyasa Manufacturing Company (NMC).

Fifa does not impose sanctions on tobacco-related football sponsorship, hence Nyasa recently confirmed a pre-contract worth K500 million for five years with Bullets, ending a 11-year sponsorship drought for the People’s Team.

During a press briefing in Lilongwe yesterday, Drug Fight Malawi executive director, Nelson Zakeyo, appealed to Football Association of Malawi (Fam) to assist Bullets find an alternative sponsorship, saying it might have a negative effect on youngsters, who are mostly football fanatics.

“Drug Fight Malawi considers the tobacco sponsorship of Bullets team as a deliberate and well-orchestrated strategy of Nyasa Manufacturing Company to market its products and increase tobacco consumption among children,” Zakeyo explained.

“This is in sharp contradiction to the healthy lifestyle of sports as espoused by Fifa. Tobacco sponsorship of a football club is also in conflict with Sustainable Development Goal number three which ensures healthy lives and promotes well -being for all ages.”

Zakeyo, whose NGO is registered and works against the use of tobacco, Marijuana, alcohol and drug abuse, said his organisation would continue to lobby for a tobacco-free smoking country.

“While acknowledging that tobacco is Malawi’s top forex earner, it is not in order to promote the use of tobacco that would, in turn, see children using the product. The promotion of tobacco use will turn our own children into users and life-smokers, hence dooming their future,” Zakeyo added.

Bullets vice-general secretary, Kelvin Moyo, trashed Drug Fight Malawi’s call, saying they are going ahead with the deal that will see the team getting K100 million annually through monthly allocations.

“We cannot stop that, let them write us and we will explain to them our sponsorship agreement,” Moyo said.

Bullets, through Fam, were cleared to go ahead with the sponsorship which the club prefers to call strategic business partnership. The team is expected to use its big fan-base to market Nyasa’s brand of cigar rates.

Fam general secretary, Sugzo Nyirenda, on Wednesday said they had not received any official complaint regarding the sponsorship agreement between Bullets and Nyasa Manufacturing Company.

A recent statement from the world football governing body, but published by the World Health Organisation, stated that Fifa statutes do not give it authority to intervene in tobacco-related sponsorship.

“As much as Fifa actively discourages confederations, national associations, league, clubs and other organisers from accepting tobacco sponsorship, it cannot impose its own judgements upon them,” reads the statement.

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