The Malawi Government has retreated on the uncertainty surrounding national football teams’ participation at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and the CAF Youth Championship due to budgetary constraints, saying the issue is being pursued by Treasury.
This follows Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) decision to opt out of the 2015 Afcon as per government advice to choose between taking part in the continental showpiece and the African youth showcase.
However, principal secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Justin Saidi on Tuesday night said the issue has been referred to Treasury for consideration.
“I think our friends at FAM missed the point. We did not say government will fund participation of only one tournament, neither did we advise them to choose. All we said is that they should prioritise. Now, is prioritising and choosing the same thing? Maybe they did not understand our point,” said Saidi.
He added: “Currently, finances are not okay, not only in sports but all sectors. We are pursuing the issue and we have written Treasury to consider it as a special case when considering extra budgetary funding, but it will be dependent upon resources.”
He said it is their wish that both teams should take part in the tournaments that are compulsory.
Saidi also claimed that what FAM president Walter Nyamilandu told The Nation on Monday, that they would not take part in Afcon, is contrary to an e-mail sent to the Ministry which said they would source funding for the senior team’s participation.
However, Youth and Sports Minister Enoch Chihana and Sports Council executive secretary George Jana agreed on the fact that FAM had been asked to choose one tournament.
Nyamilandu expressed surprise at Saidi’s latest reaction.
“We were told that the financial situation is not good; therefore, we had to choose between the two tournaments.
“We tried to lobby for the past two weeks, but it was clear that we would not win and that is when we gave up and decided to prioritise the youth tournament,” he said.
The FAM boss said when council advised them to prioritise, they meant choosing one of the two tournaments.
According to FAM general secretary Suzgo Nyirenda, the FA risks a fine of up to $20 000 [about K8.6 million] and a five-year ban from taking part in junior tournaments while pulling out of Afcon would result in a K2.1 million fine and suspension from the 2017 edition.