Football Association of Malawi (FAM) is planning to bid for the hosting rights of next year’s Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) Senior Challenge Cup as it aims at ending a 17-year spell of failure to host a major football tournament.
FAM general secretary Alfred Gunda admitted that by not hosting the competitions, the country is missing out on many opportunities.
“Such tournaments popularise football in the hosting country. The other advantages are that our local football officials could learn a lot about organisation, which is fundamental in football development. There are a lot of opportunities apart from the television revenue,” he said.
Gunda attributed the failure to bid for hosting rights to lack of money and poor infrastructure.
“We have been struggling to send teams to compete in various tournaments and it was unthinkable to bid for hosting of the competitions. Secondly, our infrastructure was not good enough,” he said.
“We can’t be lagging behind when other countries within the region are ably hosting the competitions. We are assessing the situation and we could bid to host the competition,” Gunda added.
He pointed out that construction of the Bingu National Stadium (BNS), and renovations of the other stadia, could solidify FAM’s bid.
“We are gathering information and we will come up with a comprehensive proposal which we will submit to government. If it is approved, then we will start the full-fledged preparations,” he said.
Malawi has been failing to reap the economic and technical benefits from Cosafa sanctioned tournaments following its failure to host the tournaments.
Despite taking part in most of the annually held competitions Senior Challenge Cup, Under-20 and Under-17 championships, Malawi has, for the past 17 years, not been getting a share of the television rights revenue because Cosafa regulations stipulate that such funds go to the hosting nation.
Besides that, the other benefits Malawi is failing to reap include raising the profile of local football, attracting player scouts and increasing chances of winning the competitions.
In fact, the last time the country hosted a football tournament was the 2001 Under-17 Cosafa Cup. Malawi won the competition—which is the last major cup that the country has won in the new millennium.
From a non-football point of view, hosting the Cosafa tournaments also helps in promoting tourism, which brings forex to a country. Fourteen nations take part in the Cosafa
The common practice, the world-over, is that television rights revenue is shared among all participating teams, but Cosafa deputy chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda, in an interview, said they chose a different path to encourage nations to be hosting the tournaments.
“As per Organisation Association Agreement, which Cosafa signs with the hosting association, the sharing (of the television rights revenue) is between Cosafa and the hosting association. These are the benefits for hosting a tournament,” he said.
Nyirenda also laid out some requirements for a country to host the tournaments, which include the hosting government introducing a number of tax waivers on sports equipment.
He said: “There are waivers that governments have to issue such as duties on sports equipment that Cosafa would bring, issuing of visas and work permits and provide security.”
Nyirenda further said the host nation must insure the stadia which have been earmarked for the matches.
“The hosting association should have liability insurance of the stadia in case of accidents. Apart from that, there should be availability of flights from other member countries, availability of training facilities and hotels for teams, officials and Cosafa delegation,” he said.
Malawi National Council of Sports general secretary George Jana said government would back the hosting of the Cosafa tournament saying it is one way of “promoting football, instilling a sporting culture in a country and improving performance.”
“We have been encouraging associations to be hosting various competitions. This is why we supported international swimming championship which was held early this year,” he said.