Hot and bothered. As of yesterday, Be Forward Wanderers were still waiting for their Japanese sponsors’ final word as regards their participation in the CAF Champions League.
The Nomads general secretary (GS) Mike Butao said following negotiations they had with Be Forward Japan on Thursday, the company’s management was meeting yesterday to determine the way forward.
“All I can say is that we are waiting for their response, but the team has resumed training this morning [yesterday],” he said.
According to the correspondence between the Nomads and their sponsor, which Weekend Nation has seen, Be Forward wired $72 800 [about K53.4 million] on January 28 for their preliminary round engagements against Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) outfit AS Vita.
“We have wired a total of $72 800 for the CAF matches, from that $20 000 [about K14.7 million] should be given to FAM [Football Association of Malawi] as refundable deposit [surety],” reads part of a post from a Be Forward official identified as Rotura Mae in a WhatsApp group conversation.
But Be Forward reversed the transaction a day a later after learning about the players’ sit-in, a development that led the Nomads, through their GS, to ask FAM to notify the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on their intention to pull out from the continental showpiece.
Part of the e-mail from the Nomads to FAM, reads: “We are sorry, but circumstances have forced us to withdraw from the 2018 CAF Champions League. Please advise CAF of this withdrawal.
“We regret the inconvenience this will cause. Please advise us on the penalty associated with such withdrawal.”
FAM acting competitions manager Casper Jangale yesterday said the Nomads have until noon today to come up with a decision.
He said in the event that they withdraw, they will be required to pay $5 000 (about K3.7 million) and they will be banned from taking part in CAF tournaments for two years.
“There are also other penalties that are determined by the CAF disciplinary body which take into consideration things like the money their prospective opponents spent on preparations,” said Jangale.
Efforts to talk to Be Forward officials in Japan yesterday proved futile, but a well-placed source told our sister newspaper The Nation of Thursday February 1 that the sponsor demanded justification for the team’s participation in the CAF tournament when there appears to be lack of seriousness and commitment towards their preparations.
“The sponsor was bitter that between January 9 and 29, the players have staged three sit-ins, demanding their dues,” said the source.
But Butao played down the issue, saying the internal issues they had have since been addressed.
“The players have been given their Super League prize money share and we do not owe them a penny,” he said.
The Nomads GS also clarified that at no point did the club want to divert the prize money towards the CAF competition, saying: “We were just waiting for the cheque to mature, that’s all.”
“We had a fruitful meeting with the players which lasted about six hours yesterday [Thursday]. So, let us not focus on that because the sponsor is also not happy with negative media reports,” he said.
Soccer analyst George Kaudza-Masina described the players’ conduct as unprofessional.
“As sponsors, surely Be Forward wouldn’t want their brand to be associated with such kind of conduct. Records show that Wanderers is one of the best sponsored teams in the land with their wage bill estimated to be in the excess of K12 million. Now, what else do they want?
“These frequent boycotts won’t do any good to the team and it won’t be surprising if the sponsor decides to pull out altogether and this would have far-reaching effects on the team and the players themselves.
“Let no player be seen to be bigger than the team. It is high time these players were made to sign a code of conduct. As for the management of the team, it’s also high time they stamped their authority and show that they are in control of things,” he said.
But team captain Joseph Kamwendo on Wednesday said: “It was not necessarily a sit-in. We were just following up on our prize money share and we called for the GS to explain when we would get the money.”