Football Association of Malawi in a desparate bid to safeguard sponsorship has taken over from the National Referees Committee (NRC) the role of assigning referees to football games.
This is to mitigate officiating problems in an attempt to safeguard sponsorship, Nation Online understands.
Through the FAM referees sub-committee which is chaired by James Mwenda, FAM is now responsible for allocating games to referees, disciplining wrongdoers, promoting and training deserving ones.
Previously, these were NRCâ€™s responsibilities, but the refereesâ€™ general secretary Chris Kalichero has said the change does not imply failure on his committee.
Mwenda confirmed the development, but insisted that NRC is still an independent body that will be recommending referees to FAM.
He, however, said FAM was forced to take this measure following increasing allegations of match-fixing and also outright poor officiation.
“We are trying to improve officiation in general after frequent complaints. Referees play an important role as they enforce the laws of football on the pitch. Bad decisions influence an undeserving team to win and usually fuel hooliganism. As FAM, it is our role to protect the image of the game and ensure perfection on the part of referees,” said Mwenda.
FAM has since split its referees sub-committee into four segments. Chris Kapanga heads the allocation team, Verson Lwanja is responsible for training, Charles Kafatiya heads the review sub-committee whereas the disciplinary committee is headed by Macgavern Mpeni.
“These are retired referees who have officiated at the highest level and are conversant with rules governing the referees. The responsibility of NRC will now be to recommend and also identify referees,” said Mwenda.
According to Mwenda, FAM has also arranged for referees instructors to orient Super League coaches and players on rules of the game.
He said coaches sometimes instigate violence when they publicly blame referees for decisions that have not gone their way.
“Sometimes referees get blamed for making right decisions just because a coach may not be conversant with rules of the game.
“It has been sometime since some of our coaches had refresher courses, in which case they are not conversant with new rules of the game. Football fans take a lead from coaches because they believe the coaches are abreast with the rules of the game,” said Mwenda.
Kalichero said he has just received communication about the changes.
“Our chairperson (Chris Kapanga) is the secretary at FAM sub-committee. I received a letter from him yesterday [Wednesday]. We are yet to sit down and discuss the change. The only anomaly is that there seems to be conflict of interest on the part of our chairperson, but we have to discuss that at the executive level,” said Kalichero.
Mwenda, however, said by incorporating Kapanga as secretary in the referees sub-committee it means he will be privileged to every new development in relation to referees and that he will be in a position to relay the same to NRC for implementation.
Chairperson for coaches in the country, John Kaputa, has welcomed FAMâ€™s intervention.
“We hail the move to have instructors partnering Super League teams during training. As coaches, we stand to benefit a lot through such trainings,” said Kaputa.
FAM has also lined up training programmes to orient journalists with rules of the game so that they are able to cover games professionally.
“The media is an important stakeholder in the game of football. The press can influence action or reaction from football fans and supporters; as such, it is important that they are updated on the rules of the game,” said Mwenda.
It is only in Malawi where there is an independent referees body. In countries such as Zambia, Tanzania and South Africa, the referees are directly under the football associations.
In a related development, Fifa has invited four Malawian referees to undergo a three-week instructorâ€™s course in Tanzania.