One month on
Referees body still investigating Gift Chicco, Bernadetta Kwimbira
National Referees Association (NRA) is yet to make a decision on Fifa referee Gift Chicco and assistant Bernadetta Kwimbira, who officiated the TNM Super League match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers on May 1.
The match, played at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre, was marred by violence after police fired teargas canisters to disperse stone-throwing fans who were protesting against Chicco’s officiation.
This forced the match official to end the Blantyre derby with about eight minutes remaining.
The abandonment and other incidents compelled Super League of Malawi (Sulom) to slap both Bullets and Wanderers with fines over a fortnight ago.
Bullets were fined K500,000, with Wanderers being ordered to pay K1.6 million.
In its determination, Sulom condemned the match officials for their handling of the game and asked NRA to decide on how to punish them.
Meanwhile, the match officials in question continue to take charge of matches, with assistant referee Bernadetta Kwimbira starting her preparations for this year’s Olympic Games.
NRA General Secretary Chris Kalichero said they were still investigating the matter and would provide an update once their determination was ready.
Kalichero said they were not in a hurry to come up with a decision on the matter as it is legal in nature.
“We are in the process of finding out what went wrong. This is a legal issue and we are waiting for our legal team to give us feedback. Once they do so, we will come back to you on the way forward,” he said.
During the match, Chicco showed Wanderers international defender Stanley Sanudi a yellow card for a physical confrontation with Kwimbira.
The referee issued the card while the game was in motion and this angered Wanderers players including captain Alfred Manyozo, who protested and was yellow carded together with defender Ted Sumani.
Sulom suspended Sanudi for two matches.
Wanderers have since called on Sulom and Football Association of Malawi to decisively act on Chicco and Kwimbira, saying in a statement: “Their dubious and suspect decisions are ruining the beautiful game in this country”.
Football pundit George Kaudza-Masina said while NRA had its own rules on handling of complaints or disciplinary issues like any organisation, there was a need to speed up the processs.
“This matter should be handled with speed considering the interest it has generated. Stakeholders are anxious to know what will happen to the match officials. The challenge is that we might be thinking that there is a case when, in the eyes of the referees’ mother body, all is well. Suffice to say that what happened during that particular game is something obvious even for a layman to judge,” Masina said.
He said the delayed determination of the matter and the continued allocation of matches to the referees did not reflect well on the beautiful game of football, which connotes fair play as paramount.
“It is likely that teams might have lost confidence in the two and a decision on their verdict might be a relief to the concerned parties. With this in mind, let the referees’ body came out in the open and clear the mist surrounding the issue to avoid continued mistrust,” Masina said.
At the time of abandoning the match, the two teams were tied at 1-1 and Sulom upheld the result as the game had matured.
Wanderers opened the scores in the 14th minute through Stanley Sanudi before Bullets equalised in the second half through Yunusu Sherrif’s own goal.