Two Fifa referees—Dennis Ngulube and Patrick Ngoleka—have each been given a five -month ban for serious technical errors by the Football Association of Malawi (FAM) in liason with the National Football Referees Association (NFRA).
According to FAM general secretary (GS) Suzgo Nyirenda, two other referees—Aziz Nyirenda and Andy Kuseli— have also been suspended for two months and one month respectively, while Arnold Maseko has been given a serious warning.
Assistant referee Jones Chimedza has been handed a two-month ban.
The FAM GS said Ngulube, who is considered one of the best referees on the domestic scene, has been punished for feigning illness during the Carlsberg Cup final match between Be Forward Wanderers and Silver Strikers.
“During that match, Ngulube complained of stomach upset and he asked to be replaced by a fourth official, but surprisingly instead of going to the hospital, he [Ngulube] continued as a fourth official, a situation we found to be strange; hence the five-month suspension,” he said.
Nyirenda said Ngoleka has been punished for the serious technical error he made during a TNM Super League match between Epac FC and MTV Max Bullets in Lilongwe which was abandoned in the first half after Max Bullets protested the referee’s decision to award Epac a goal after he had earlier on blown for a foul against Max Bullets.
“It was a serious technical error by someone who has a Fifa badge. After blowing for a foul against Max Bullets, he shouldn’t have allowed Epac to proceed with play and score a goal and for such a serious offence, he deserved a stiff punishment.”
Following the abandonment of the match, the Super League of Malawi (Sulom) found Max Bullets guilty of causing the abandonment of the match and awarded it to Epac, a decision that led to the rookies pulling out from the league.
Nyirenda also said Ngoleka will be removed from the list of officiating personnel for the upcoming Cosafa Youth Championship to be staged in South Africa.
“To that effect, we have already written Cosafa to take him off the list because we want them to draw lessons from their mistakes so that they should not repeat them in future. It cannot be business as usual,” said the FAM GS who will soon be taking up the post of Cosafa deputy chief executive officer.
Commenting on Nyirenda and Kuseli, the FAM GS said the two have also been punished for serious technical errors.
He said Nyirenda was found guilty of not awarding Mafco a penalty in a league match against Moyale which was also abandoned while Kuseli was faulted for denying Nyasa Big Bullets a penalty during their match against Azam Tigers.
Maseko has been warned for the unprofessional manner in which he handled a league match between Mafco and Dwangwa United.
NFRC general secretary Chris Kalichelo and revered former Fifa referee and instructor Bester Kalombo described the punishments as fair, saying they are meant to jack up the referees.
Said Kalichelo: “It is very fair judgement and we want it to be a wake-up call for the referees to be serious in exercising their duties. There is need for them to plan psychologically for matches. It should also act as a warning to others.
“We need to take a hardline on referees so that they realise the importance of their duties. It is unfortunate that some of them are elite referees who are supposed to lead by example.”
On his part, Kalombo said: “The mistakes that they made are very serious in nature which at international level, attract bans of up to six months.
“Like in the case of Ngulube, I was the assessor for the Carlsberg Cup final match and if indeed he had a serious stomach upset, he should have asked to be taken to hospital for treatment, but he did not and instead opted to continue as a fourth official, that was totally unacceptable because he feigned illness.
“And as for Ngoleka, he too made a serious technical error which influenced the result. They need to reflect and pull up their socks.”
Ngulube said while he will not contest the decision, he still sticks to his guns that he fell ill during the match.
“I was even treated by Wanderers team doctor and my blood pressure had shot up, but if that is their determination, so be it. I will serve the suspension,” he said. n