Some fans have asked Football Association of Malawi (FAM) and Super League of Malawi (Sulom) to resume football matches suspended in April in compliance with novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic precautionary measure of social distancing.
The supporters’ call follows violations of a government ban on gatherings of more than 100 people by political parties.
Presidential candidates in the forthcoming July 2 election last week defied the social distancing measure by parading with thousands of supporters when they presented their nominations at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre.
There were also campaign rallies on Saturday and yesterday across the country.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and United Democratic Front (UDF) alliance running mate Atupele Muluzi on Saturday held a whistle-stop tour from Blantyre to Mangochi.
Yesterday, he held similar rallies in Dedza and Lilongwe.
Tonse Alliance presidential candidate Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarus Chakwera and his running mate UTM leader Saulos Chilima yesterday also held a mega rally in Mzuzu.
Led by the country’s top three clubs, Nyasa Big Bullets, Silver Strikers and Be Forward Wanderers, the supporters feel football should also resume.
Nyasa Big Bullets supporters director Stone Mwamadi said: “As football lovers, we feel we are being denied our right to enjoy the sport that we love when others are defying the social distancing measures. We would like FAM and Sulom to let football resume.
“As supporters, we will observe the social distancing measures such as washing hands, using hand sanitizers and wearing masks.”
Be Forward Wanderers staunch supporter Yona Malunga said the football fraternity is the most affected by the social distancing measurers.
“Bwezi pano ndili ku mpira pano, koma tawonani pano ndikungogona. [I could have been at a football match, but instead I am just sleeping]. Ali pa bwino ndi anzathu okonda za ndale akupangabe misonkhano.[Those who are into politics are better off because they are holding rallies],” he said.
Malunga said FAM and Sulom should put in place crowd control measures such as putting restrictions on the number of people at matches.
“Sikuti tikufuna Blantyre derby ayi. Akhoza kuyambisa ma gemu ang’onoang’ono kaye. [We are not asking them to start with high profile games such as the Blantyre derby between Bullets and Wanderers. They can start with low profile matches only],” he said.
Silver Strikers supporters chairperson Kingsley Malaya said football is being victimised in the name of fighting coronavirus.
“The measures on fighting coronaviorus should not just apply to football,” he said.
But FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda ruled out the possibility of resuming the matches while social distancing restrictions are still in place.
“As far as we are concerned, the ban on any gatherings of more than 100 people still stands. We cannot just defy the ban just because others are doing it,” he said.
“Football will only resume after we have been given a go-ahead by the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders.”
Sulom general secretary Williams Banda said the league runners will continue to observe the ban on sporting activities.
“We are guided by what Fifa advised that we should follow the measures that our respective governments have put in place because health and safety come first,” he said.
Malawi National Council of Sports executive secretary Henry Mereka also doubted the possibility of resuming football when coronavirus cases are on the rise.
“The supporters are talking of them [supporters] following social distancing measures such as hand-washing and using sanitisers or wearing masks, but what about the players? Football being a contact game, how do they expect the [players to protect themselves? So to me, it can’t work,” he said.
The 2020 season was scheduled to kick off in April but it was postponed after the ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.
FAM last week announced that the season will only go ahead with some adjustments to the fixtures and allow the season to spill over to next year if the delay is within six months—April to September 2020.
The association said if the delay takes more than six months (from October and beyond), the season will be considered to have been lost and FAM will start planning for another season which would starting January 2021.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has reached 56 after 13 new cases were reported on Saturday by Minister of Health Jappie Mhango during the daily updates on the pandemic.