Super League of Malawi (Sulom) says its first test to allow about 250 fans at TNM Super League matches proved to be a challenge at the weekend.
This followed a Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 decision last week to ease restrictions on public gathering from 50 to 250 for outdoor activities.
The development gives Sulom some food for thought in the countdown to the most sought-after fixture between Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers scheduled for this Saturday at Kamuzu Stadium.
Sulom vice-general secretary Zachariah Nyirenda and legal adviser Innocent Kadam’mamnja, who coordinated the organisation of matches in Lilongwe and Blantyre respectively, yesterday admitted that it was a challenge to contain fans outside the stadia.
Said Nyirenda: “In Lilongwe we did not have much challenges. We managed 250 and sent back quite a good number of spectators.
“We will continue doing such, but we still plead with the authorities to consider softening up further. Life has changed, people are living normal lives outside football and it becomes a challenge to follow the restrictions only at football matches.
“We don’t have issues with people getting into the stadia because they are fulfilling all the set guidelines, but people we are sending back because they are failing to appreciate why there is a limit at football matches when life is normal at places such as markets, churches and funerals, but then when they come to watch a football match we tell them we can only accommodate 250 people.
“Now, a human being is a social being and one day, they will react and it will be a challenge.”
On his part, Kadam’manja who supervised the match between Nyasa Big Bullets and Civil Service (Civo) United at Kamuzu Stadium, said: “It was a challenge to contain people who were outside the stadium, but inside the stadium, everything went on well.
“So, it remains a challenge to enforce the restrictions. People are tired of waiting to watch the beautiful game of football..”
He said it could have been better if the restrictions were relaxed further with strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols “or they should increase the number of those allowed to enter the stadium”.
During the Bullets versus Civo match, some fans forced their way into the stadium by jumping over the fence, but were forced out by security personnel.
Speaking when she announced the revised Covid-19 restriction rules last week, Minister of Health Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda, who is also co-chairperson of the Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, said they expect the football fraternity to adhere to the rules.
Last week, Wanderers supporters committee chairperson Mervin Nkunika and Bullets supporters committee secretary Mabvuto Chibambo said it will be a challenge to restrict fans from watching the Blantyre derby.
Said Nkunika: “For such a high-profile match, it will be a big challenge and even security will be overwhelmed. So, these are some of the issues that need to be looked into.”
On his part, Chibambo said: “The restrictions are taking a toll on the clubs’ finances apart from denying supporters entertainment.”
Meanwhile, the Bullets, Civo game grossed K850 000 and the two teams got K148 326.50 each. About K320 000 went towards securitywhile stadium owners got K144 125.
Sulom received K45 650 while the rest went towards stewards and St. Johns Ambulance.