Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Francis Phiso has pleaded for patience from the football fraternity amid calls from some quarters to lift suspension on matches.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) suspended matches in March this year after President Peter Mutharika declared the country a State of Disaster due to the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The President announced Covid-19 precautionary measures, including a ban of gatherings of more than 100 people as part of social distancing
In an interview yesterday, Phiso said his call comes in the wake of reports that a group of football fans are planning to hold demonstrations aimed at forcing government to lift the suspension on football matches.
“The [acting] executive secretary of the Malawi National Council of Sports [Henry Mereka] was telling me that it has come to his attention that some people were planning protests.
“If it is true, then it is unfortunate. We need to appreciate how deadly this pandemic is and I, therefore, plead with the fans to exercise caution,” he said.
Phiso said, considering the current situation, there are no plans to lift the suspension on sport, including football.
The minister also said the fact that politicians are holding rallies should not be justification for football to resume.
“Politicians have no choice because there is a set date for elections and they need to campaign,” he said.
Mereka confirmed being briefed about the planned demonstrations.
He said: “From what I have gathered, the fans want to present a petition, but then what we are saying is that you cannot demonstrate without engagement.
“For football to resume, we also have to put measures in place to protect the players.”
FAM president Walter Nyamilandu said it would be inappropriate “to correct a wrong with another wrong”.
He said: “We will only proceed to resume matches once government has certified that we are safe accompanied by lifting of sanctions that were imposed on social gatherings.”
Ministry of Health spokesperson Joshua Malango said: “As Ministry of Health, we are still for no gatherings. That is our stand.”
Confederation of African Football is also on record as having said it is too early to restart football.
In Europe, the Bundesliga in Germany is the only major league to resume after the Covid-19 break.