Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Charles Mwansambo yesterday contradicted Sulom over its claims that the reduced public gatherings from 100 to 50 will exclude football players on the pitch.
In his address to the nation on Sunday evening, President Lazarus Chakwera announced that gatherings had been reduced to 50 as part of a multi-pronged strategy to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Responding to a question on whether the reduction would affect the top-flight league matches in terms of logistics and planning, Super League of Malawi (Sulom) president Tiya Somba-Banda yesterday said: “Games will proceed as 50 is exclusive of players who are on a separate field of play.”
However, Mwansambo, who is also a member of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, dismissed the Sulom president’s assertion.
He said: “The gazette is talking about gatherings. People tend to twist things to suit their intentions and interests.
“The definition of the guidelines is that gatherings should not exceed 50 at a particular place whether at a football match, church or anywhere.
“If they need clarification, they should contact the Ministry of Youth and Sports.”
Reacting to this, Somba-Banda said: “Let us wait for the gazette as it will stipulate to the detail.”
But Football Association of Malawi (FAM) Covid-19 Task Force chairperson Chimango Munthali, who is also the association’s executive committee member, said they will wait for the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 to give them clear guidelines following the reduced figure.
He said: “We have been in touch with the presidential Task Force to give us a guidance on the gazetted documentation and from there we’ll know whether football will be affected or not because there are different interpretations.”
Under the current arrangement, teams are given a slot of 30 people each, translating to 60 for two teams.
The 30 comprise 20 players, seven technical staff and three officials from each team.
Nyasa Big Bullets chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said the reduced figure on gatherings will pose a challenge to all stakeholders, in particular clubs.
“We want to see how Sulom and FAM are going to work out the figures with the reduced figure.
“They are yet to get in touch with us on the way forward, but it is obvious that it is going to be a challenge… It’s a tricky situation,” he said.
Two weeks ago, the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 reinstated a restriction on public gatherings to 100, a development which led to spectators being barred from watching matches.