Karonga United have withdrawn from the inaugural FDH Bank Cup following a decision by FAM to shift the venue of their Round of 32 match against Mighty Wanderers to Mzuzu Stadium.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) initially announced that the match would be played at Karonga United’s home ground, Karonga Stadium.
However, following the violence that erupted at the venue during a TNM Super League match between Karonga and Silver Strikers on Sunday, FAM declared the venue not fit to host a high-profile match.
The venue will, however, still host another FDH Bank Cup Round of 32 match between minnows Baka FC and Dedza Young Soccer.
A statement from FAM reads: “Football Association of Malawi has changed the venue for the FDH Bank Cup Round of 32 match between Karonga United and Be Forward Wanderers from Karonga Stadium to Mzuzu Stadium.
FAM said it had noted that Karonga Stadium is not in good “condition to host an elite match as per the FAM club licensing regulations and FAM Covid-19 Football Re-Start Guidelines, after it was vandalised on Sunday, June 20 2021”.
Reacting to the developments, Karonga United have written FAM that they have withdrawn from the competition.
Through their letter signed by the club’s chairperson Matthews Tulombolombo, the club accused FAM of bias against Karonga United.
While accepting that there were some damages to the stadium, the club said FAM made a decision without inspecting the stadium.
The letter reads in part: “There are always small damages to the stadium in every game, which are always maintained by the council in collaboration with us.
“We were at the stadium today with council officials to inspect the stadium, but such damages mentioned are no longer there. I wish your inspection team could come and assess the ground rather than sitting in Blantyre making decisions basing on hearsay.
“We were expecting FAM to come to Karonga, and together with us and Karonga District Council, to inspect the stadium and produce an acceptable report that incorporates all stakeholders. You cannot make any decision without an assessment report which justifies your decision.
“Since you have decided to shift our game to Mzuzu without proper justification, as Karonga United family we are withdrawing from FDH Cup forthwith. It is a painful decision, but we don’t have any other option.”
But FAM competitions and communication director Gomezgani Zakazaka said rules and regulations of the competition will apply.
Article 4.6 of FDH Bank Cup rules and regulations states: “If any team withdraws, then the team shall be liable to a fine of K100 000 at regional level and K2 million at national level.
“In addition to the fine, the team shall be banned from participating in any competition organised by FAM or any of its affiliated bodies for a period of one year.”
The decision to shift the venue also follows a request from Mighty Wanderers supporters to FAM.
A letter from the stadium’s acting manager W.M Ngwira addressed to the district commissioner, which we have seen, states that among others, offices, VIP stand, dressing rooms, perimeter wire fence, and toilets were damaged and vandalised and in need of urgent attention.
“The technical panel from the office of DPW will come up with a well detailed quantity damages assessment report for proper maintenance arrangement,” reads the letter..