The police last weekend arrested four people for allegedly having fake tickets during the Flames’ Championship of African Nations (Chan) preliminary round match against Madagascar at Bingu National Stadium (BNS) in Lilongwe.
However, the police later released the suspects on instructions from Football Association of Malawi (FAM) commercial and marketing director Limbani Matola after “it was discovered that the tickets were not fake per se but that the printers erroneously skipped the stamping of security holograms on some tickets.”
Reports indicate that one of the suspects, who travelled with his family all the way from Dowa and bought six tickets for his family at Area 18 Puma Filling Station, was embarrassed after being apprehended in front of his family members.
Lilongwe Police spokesperson Kingsley Dandaula confirmed the incident yesterday but said he could not comment much because the suspects have been cleared by the offended body, FAM.
“Indeed four people were arrested and later released in connection with the alleged fake tickets. However, I cannot comment further because FAM cleared the suspects of any wrongdoing,” he said.
On the other hand, Matola said they traced the tickets back to the sales outlets and upon scrutiny, noted the tickets were not fake but were just faulty original vouchers as a result of factory problem. He said at least nine tickets were found with the same problem.
FAM has since apologised to the traumatised innocent soccer lovers for “the mistake.”
“I take responsibility to sincerely apologise to the affected people and their families for the traumatising experience they went through due to the error,” Matola said.
He, however, said such errors are inevitable in new initiatives such as the introduction of the tickets that are fortified with security holograms and they hope to improve the ticket system in the next games.
“But the good thing is that we are able to differentiate between fake and original tickets even in the absence the holograms. Being able to detect innocence and criminality is a major step in our bid to curb fake ticket racket. We are still learning and we will perfect the system,” he said.
The development comes barely a month after 32-year-old Weston Ganeti and Peter Minofu were arrested for allegedly being found in possession of at least 300 forged tickets during the Chifundo Charity Shield match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Kamuzu Barracks at Civo Stadium in Lilongwe. The suspects are expected to appear in court today.