Football Association of Malawi (FAM) feels betrayed by Ministry of Sports and Culture after the Kamuzu Stadium owners hired out the venue to host the 50th University of Malawi (Unima) anniversary celebrations a day before the Flames’ World Cup second-leg qualifier against Tanzania on October 11.
FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda has since written the ministry to express their concerns about the stadium owners’ breach of agreement not to hold functions at the venue after the local football governing body sweated to renovate the artificial turf for Fifa to pass it.
“We had asked government to close the stadium immediately after the Big Bullets versus Mighty Be Forward Wanderers match [this Saturday] so that we can work on minor renovations that were recommended by a Fifa envoy. However, we have learnt that there will be a Unima function on October 10 [just a day prior to the match] to be attended by the President [Peter Mutharika],” Nyirenda said.
“We have also gathered that the stadium has been booked for prayers mid next week which could affect the renovations. A match commissioner is supposed to inspect the stadium on the 10th, the day of the Unima function. It also means that Tanzania cannot train at the match venue on that day as per Fifa requirement.”
FAM fears that the activities that include dances could leave the turf in bad shape.
“This could put us in trouble and we have since written the Ministry [through director of sports Jameson Ndalama] to consider shifting the venue of the University of Malawi function. This was after he suggested that we should talk to Unima which we felt was not proper as we are not owners of the stadium,” the FAM GS said.
However, Ndalama said the stadium management team was better placed to explain the situation.
“We have a stadium management team at the site. They are better placed to explain what is happening there,” Ndalama said.
“We don’t deal with bookings for the venue. That is exactly what I told Mr. Sugzo Nyirenda.”
Ndalama, however, said he followed up the issue with stadium management who told him that ‘everything was under control’.
Stadium manager Ambilite Mwaungulu said the bookings in question would not affect the artificial turf.
“The issue here is to ensure that the artificial turf is in good condition by the time the match commissioner comes for the inspection. To solve that, we have explained to the organisers of the events to ensure that their activities don’t spread to the turf.
“As for the requirement that the visiting team should train at the pitch at least a day before the match, that will not be a problem because the Unima event will be concluded by 2pm,” he said.