Business mogul and philanthropist Thom Mpinganjira says the acts of violence that occurred during last Saturday’s Blantyre derby between Mighty Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets is a huge setback in the clubs’ hunt for sponsorship.
The match was abandoned in the 82nd minute when alleged Wanderers fans started throwing objects onto the pitch leading to police firing tear gas.
In an interview on Thursday, Mpinganjira, a Wanderers diehard who recently donated K24 million to the Nomads, said it is sad that this is happening at a time clubs are struggling to find sponsorship.
He said: “I was very disappointed to learn that the much touted derby was abandoned after a Wanderers player was shown the red card and alleged Wanderers fans reacted by throwing objects on the pitch.
“As I mentioned earlier, I used to go and watch football matches with my late wife, but we stopped when violence crept into the game.
“It is sad that this is happening again, especially at a time when clubs are struggling to find sponsors.”
Mpinganjira said sponsors do not like to be associated with violence.
“As such, this act is a serious setback if not a fatal one in the efforts to secure sponsors.
“It is time supporters understood the negative impact of their emotions and actions on their clubs,” he said.
Mpinganjira is a majority shareholder and founder of home- grown FDH Bank plc which sponsors the richest football cup, the Flames, Malawi Queens, a national netball cup and Mayor’s trophies.
The two clubs condemned the acts of violence in statements they released after the match.
Part of the Nomads’ statement reads: “These are not soccer loving people and they have no place in our beautiful game. We hope and believe that those mandated with law enforcement will swiftly bring the perpetrators to book.”
However, Bullets blamed the Nomads for the ugly scenes that occurred at the stadium.
The People’s Team chief administration officer Albert Chigoga said: “The incident was unacceptable in the modern era of football. Football is a game governed by laws and when a team of Wanderers’ magnitude starts behaving with no civility simply because of a disallowed corner- kick, it smacks of unsporting behaviour.”
Super League of Malawi vice-general secretary Zachariah Nyirenda told the media after the match that they will go through reports from various stakeholders and then determine the way forward.
He said: “Very disappointing. I will not waste time pointing fingers at anyone. We will get reports from police, stewards, referees and teams, then we will sit down to analyse the reports and we will issue a statement.”
Former Wanderers supporters committee chairperson Yona Malunga also bemoaned the fans’ behaviour, saying it could discourage potential sponsors.