The Fellowship Association of Malawi (Fama) claims Big Bullets and Mighty Wanderers conspired to sabotage their K12.5 million Top Eight Tournament which Blue Eagles won last week.
According to Fama organising secretary Japhet Majekete, the plot to frustrate the tournament was hatched on the eve of the regional qualifier game involving the two Blantyre teams.
Majekete that prior to the tournament all the eight teams, including Bullets and Wanderers, signed contracts agreeing that they would play for charity; hence, all gate takings would go to Fama.
But when the two teams played on March 11 2012, they declared their game a friendly and shared the K2.1 million (about $8 400) that was collected at the gates. The two teams got K350 000 (about $1 400) each.
Majekete said Bullets officials he met on the eve of the game told him that things had changed and that the game would be a friendly unless they agreed to let them get something from the proceeds.
“We could not do that because prior to the start of the tournament we had told the teams that they would get nothing from the gate collections, but Bullets took everything into their hands. We got K700 000 (about $2 800) only from the K2.1 million that was collected,” said Majekete.
Bullets chairperson Malinda Chinyama and vice-general secretary Higger Mkandawire admitted that they wanted their game against Wanderers to be a friendly, but said it was not a conspiracy as such, but an arrangement between the two teams.
“We run as a commercial entity and for an organisation to hire us, they have to pay a minimum of K500 000 (about $2 000). When Fama approached us to take part in the tournament we told them our conditions, but their arrangement was that all the proceeds should go towards charity and we had reservations with that,” said Chinyama.
Added Chinyama: “The whole process was a loss and we are disappointed with Fama. They made a lot of money because of Bullets. Just imagine, in Lilongwe they made K3.1 million (about $12 400) and we got nothing, yet it is our fans who made it possible for them to make such money.”
Mkandawire admitted that the two teams got K350 000 each.
“The money was used to pay players allowances and other expenses as we have no sponsor. How did they (Fama) expect us to fulfil our fixtures. Anyway, we agreed to refund the money. Our vice-chairperson [Austin Kasito] discussed the issue with them,” said Mkandawire.
Mighty Wanderers general secretary and legal adviser David Kanyenda blamed Fama for rushing to the press instead of settling the issue with them quietly. He claimed not to have been aware that they would play for charity.
“We made millions for them and they want to tarnish our image. Afuna atiyaluse ife. We will not play again in their tournament next year,” said Kanyenda.
Other teams that took part in the tournament this week blamed Bullets and Wanderers for backtracking on their agreement.
Epac general secretary Roy Mdechi, said at a meeting held at Lingadzi Inn on March 17 2012, the teams resolved that Bullets and Wanderers be disqualified from the tournament for breaching the contract.
“The agreement was that, save for the prize money, teams would not benefit anything from gate collections, but would meet their own expenses,” said Mdechi.
The Lingadzi Inn meeting was attended by, among others, Fama vice-chairperson Jones Masiye, Majekete, Ackis Muwanga from Blue Eagles, Mdechi, Kasito and Red Lions representatives.
“We told them about our decision [to stop the competition], but it was agreed that the tournament should proceed, but Bullets should be expelled. But Bullets, who were represented by vice-chairperson [Kasito], apologised and promised to give back the money as a condition for remaining in the competition. We could not bother Wanderers because they were out of the tournament,” said Majekete.
Blue Eagles general secretary Ackis Muwanga confirmed in an interview that the agreement was that teams would not get anything from the gate collections.
He also confirmed the resolution of the meeting at Lingadzi.
“Initially, we had agreed to expel Bullets and replace them with another team after play-offs, but Bullets pleaded that they refund the money and stay in the competition and we all agreed to that,” said Muwanga.
Majekete said because of the incident in Blantyre, some of their sponsors pulled out and Fama has lost K5 million in the process.
“We are a Christian organisation which is trying to promote Christianity through football, but what happened in Blantyre diluted the whole concept. We organised a meeting in Lilongwe where we invited all the teams which had made it into the semi-final, Red Lions, Epac, Blue Eagles and Bullets.
In an interview this week, Kasito confirmed attending the Lingadzi meeting and that Bullets agreed to refund the money.
“It is true that we apologised and promised to give the money back, which we have not done yet. We hear they are going to deduct the money from our K1 million (about $4 000) prize,” said Kasito.