Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has jumped the gun by confirming the venue of Flames’ Afcon qualifier against Uganda on March 29 before getting a waiver on Covid-19 restrictions.
But FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda yesterday said in an interview that the association went ahead to confirm with Confederation of African Football (CAF) that the match will be at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre since Afcon regulations stipulate that hosts should do so within four weeks.
He said: “We confirmed our venue to CAF within the required time. We submitted our inspection report to CAF and we are waiting for feedback.”
On what would happen if the association fails to get a waiver from government, Gunda said: “At the moment, we are also looking forward to get a waiver from government on the 50 people restriction on gatherings.
“We are confident that by the time we host Uganda football will have resumed.”
According to Afcon rules and regulations Article 16, “failure of this obligation shall entail a fine of $4 000 [about K2.2 million] and CAF will have the right to fix the venue of the match”.
In that case, the match would have to be played in a neighbouring country, just like the qualifier against South Sudan which will be played in Sudan on March 24 because the Bright Stars’ venue is closed for renovations
FAM on February 9 requested the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, to allow 98 people at matches since it is practically impossible to organise an elite match with 50 people.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 co-chairperson Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda, who is also Minister of Health, at the weekend told our sister paper Nation on Sunday that they will give direction on the matter after the task force’s meeting today.
She said: “Sports is among the priority areas of human development. We are aware that the suspension of games has negatively impacted our clubs and players.
“However, it is encouraging that we are seeing a decline in the cases and we hope that after the Tuesday meeting, we may provide positive recommendation on sports resumption and to all proposals we got from various sports associations on the resumption.”
Commenting on the matter, soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda pleaded with government to grant the Flames the waiver to play the match at Kamuzu Stadium.
He said: “As for now, the number of cases has drastically dropped. They [Presidential Task Force on Covid-19] can afford to waive the restriction of 50 people for the sake of the national team.”