Time for unregulated movement of Malawian players to Mozambican top Mocambola League seems over as the neighbouring country has tightened its immigration laws on foreigners, including footballers.
Some Malawian players such as Rafiq Mussa, Vincent Chinthenga and Foster Namwela were unable to play for their respective Mozambican clubs last weekend as that country’s authorities demanded their work permits.
Nampula football scout George Martin on Sunday confirmed that that country’s laws were now strict on foreign players without work permits.
“In fact, I’m coming there on Friday to process visas for my players. It is a new requirement that is why all Malawian players at Ferroviaro de Nampula didn’t play on Monday when the league started,” the former MDC United and Silver Strikers defender said.
According to Martin, Mozambican clubs wishing to employ Malawian players are required to apply for visas which will be processed at the Mozambican Consulate in Malawi.
Some Malawian players whose transfers were formal such as Moses Chavula were allowed to play. Chavula’s team, Maxaquene, beat Costa de Sol 1-0 on Saturday.
Flames first-choice goalkeeper Simplex Nthala was not affected but he missed Saturday match when his Ferroviaro de Nampula lost 1-0 to Vilankulo’s due to injury.
Nthala corroborated Martin’s story on the permits.
The five are among Malawian players in the top-flight Mocambola League. Others are Emmanuel Chipatala, Sunday Kamuyang’ana, Jimmy Chikulekule (Matchedje FC), Gerald Nkungula (HBO), Joseph Kamwendo, Zicco Mkanda (Liga Muculmana), Gerald Chimbaka and Innocent Jere ((Ferroviaro de Nacala), Chiukepo Msowoya (Maxaquene) and Sankhani Nyirenda (Ferroviaro de Maputo).
Malawi chief immigration officer Hudson Mankhwala on Sunday said it was a standard practice in every country that foreigners are subjected to work permit requirements, “we used to give the likes of [Nsanzwirimo] Ramadhan temporary employment permits.”
“They [Mozambicans] regulate their own laws but it wouldn’t sound strange to me…professional football is employment in itself and these guys work as expatriates there,” Mankhwala noted.
Nyirenda has played in Mozambique for four years now and when contacted on Sunday, he could not remember being pressed for a work permit, adding that the issue could concern only those clubs that cut corners in the requirements.
“I have to talk to my other compatriots such as Zicco and Joseph then I will give you a definite answer,” he said on Sunday. Mkanda and Kamwendo also have necessary paperwork.
FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said the Mozambicans’ strictness on the permits could enhance the Malawian players’ bargaining powers on contracts.
He believes the development follows CAF and Fifa club licensing requirements.