Rotten to the core
Sports Council report exposes fraud in matches
By Isaac Salima:
Malawi National Council of Sports has stated that gate fraud and theft are deep-rooted in the country’s match venues and are part of the game’s culture.
The statement is a conclusive summary of findings of a special taskforce that Sports Council instituted to get to the bottom of gate revenue fraud in the local game.
The taskforce presented its findings at Malawi Sun Hotel in Blantyre yesterday.
For almost 40 minutes, taskforce chairperson Richard Nyirongo stood in front of various stakeholders that included Football Association of Malawi and Super League of Malawi officials explaining how funds realised from gates are managed.
Nyirongo said perpetrators include officials with close links to sports body adminstrators, competition organisers, and cashiering and ticketing companies.
He said some of the specific challenges include compromised ticketing processes, porous and, in most cases, dilapidated infrastructure.
“Among other things, we recommend introduction of electronic ticketing systems as a long term solution to the problem. The solution is to reduce the use of hard cash at match venues by introducing a cashless payment system.
“A short term solution should be doing away with payments that are made to different stakeholders after the games and that the money should be deposited into their bank accounts later,” Nyirongo said.
He further urged authorities to work on improving infrastructure in stadia so that it is compliant with modern standards.
“This will prove helpful when it comes to implementing e-ticketing system. We are also urging policy makers to revisit cuts that various stakeholders and service providers get from the gate revenue.
“Another concern is that many fans continue having free access into stadiums due to the dilapidated state of facilities. This deprives teams and other rightful stakeholders of their deserved revenue,” Nyirongo said.
Sports Council board chairperson Sunduzwayo Madise said the report is a confirmation of what has been said about fraud during matches.
“This report has opened our eyes. Indeed, the problem is deep rooted and needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. For now, our finance and audit committee will analyse the report and do the needful.
“Of course the report has medium, short and long term recommendations but what we have immediately agreed with as council is that e-ticketing is the way to go so that there is no handling of cash at matches,” Madise said.
Sulom president Fleetwood Haiya said the report reflects the situation on the ground.
“We agree with whatever is in the report. That is why as Sulom we have taken a stand against making payments at matches using cash. We also agreed with teams that their shares will be transferred into their bank accounts to ensure accountability on both ends. We have also introduced e-ticketing using TNM Mpamba as a pilot project,” Haiya said.
Fraud at matches is one of the biggest problems that have been affecting football for many years with undeserving parties benefitting more from gate revenue than the teams which spend a lot to play matches at different venues across the country.
As if to prove that the theft of gate proceeds indeed exists, some people manning the gates have lately been arrested and convicted after being caught red-handed stealing cash during games.