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Referee uncomfortable with home matches

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After serving a two-month ban for failing to report an attempted match-fixing incident, Mzuzu referee George Azizi Nyirenda has said he now prefers officiating games played in Southern and Central regions.

“I prefer officiating games in the Southern and Central regions because teams respect easily every decision you make. It is unlike at home where they have a negative attitude towards me.

“The issue tarnished my image. It really pains me but being a mature person, I just move on. I have learnt that some people are jealous and do not want others to excel,” Nyirenda said.

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The referee bounced back last weekend during a TNM Super League game between Mzuni and Blue Eagles at Mzuzu Stadium.

He served the ban which was connected to the match-fixing allegations surrounding a Carlsberg Cup round-of-32 game between Nchalo United and Chitipa United at the same venue on July 13 2017.

Nyirenda was banned for not reporting the match-fixing issue while his assistant on the day Limbani Chisambi is serving a six-month suspension.

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Another referee Jimmy Phiri, who was not on duty on the day but allegedly pocketed K15,000 meant to share with the referees, was slapped with a three-year ban for allegedly pocketing the money from some Nchalo officials.

Another referee Stephano Gomani’s ban ends in December.

The match ended 3-2 in favour of Chitipa through post-match penalties, after a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time.

The result prompted some Nchalo officials to ask the referees to return the money, thinking that Jimmy Phiri had shared with them.

Earlier, National Referees Association (NRA) had banned the referees from football for the rest of their lives, for “bringing the game into total disrepute”.

However, Football Association of Malawi (Fam) overturned the ruling after its Disciplinary Committee established that Nyirenda, Chisambi, Stephano Gomani and Lameck Phiri, did not receive the money.

It also found that the match was not fixed, considering its outcome and that Nyirenda, who was in charge of the game, was not aware of the bribe.

“Jimmy Nangantani Phiri admitted to have received the MK15, 000 meant to be used for bribing match officials. [But] he never intended to hand over the money due to his behaviour on the day of the match. He was found guilty of attempting to fix the match.

“Limbani Chisambi was fully aware of the bribery but refused to be involved. He had knowledge of the intended bribe before the match kicked off but never reported to anyone of the attempted match fixing,” read part of Fam’s statement which Fam General Secretary (GS), Alfred Gunda, signed on February 8 2018.

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