Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has condemned Civo Stadium in Lilongwe as not fit to host Airtel Top 8 matches due to the pitch’s poor condition.
The development means the ground owners, Civil Service United (Civo), will have to choose a venue for their Airtel Top 8 quarter-finals first leg against Karonga United this Sunday.
However, the Civil Servants have threatened to pull out of the competition if FAM insists that they play their games at another venue.
FAM competitions and communications director Gomezgani Zakazaka on Wednesday said in an interview that the venue for the match between Civo and Karonga United was yet “to be confirmed” because the home team’s pitch is not in playable condition.
He said: “The venue for the match between Civo and Karonga United quarter-finals will be announced later because there are concerns on the home team’s pitch, Civo Stadium.”
But Civo general secretary Ronald Chiwaula accused FAM of double standards, saying the pitch at Lilongwe’s second largest sports facility is in perfect condition after undergoing rehabilitation for the past three weeks.
He said: “We are wondering how FAM came up with the decision to say the pitch is not in good condition.
“Who inspected the ground to come up with that decision? Because to our knowledge, nobody qualified to do ground inspection came.
“The only person who came to our ground was Central Region Football Association official [name withheld] who just came and looked around the stadium.
“We would like to ask FAM to send a qualified stadium inspector to assess the stadium before coming up with the decision. They should not base their decision on unqualified [ as assessment by] unqualified person.”
Chiwaula said: “What we know is that we are playing our game at our home which is Civo Stadium. We are ready to pull out if FAM sticks to its decision to condemn our venue.”
But Chiwaula admitted that the pitch was not in good shape two months ago, towards the end of the TNM Super League season.
He said: “That’s why we closed the stadium a month ago to renovate the pitch. I think FAM is making a decision based on the condition of the pitch three weeks ago.
“That is also double standards because the same pitch FAM assigned it to Zambia women’s national team when they played Malawi.”
The condemnation of Civo Stadium means the capital city now has two available venues, Silver Stadium and Nankhaka ground after Bingu National Stadium was also closed for renovations.