Football Association of Malawi president Walter Nyamilandu has cautioned Big Bullets that they should blame themselves if they lose sponsorship due to their appetite for hooliganism.
Nyamilandu made the remarks in reaction to acts of hooliganism which Bullets supporters indulged in on Sunday during their league game against Epac FC at Silver Stadium. The game ended in 1-1 draw.
Some Bullets officials were said to have led the protests against officiation by Lilongwe-based referee Simon Jovinala at half-time. The protests resulted in some Bullets fans throwing objects at the officiating crew.
The irritated Bullets fans blocked the men in black from passing through the tunnel to the dressing by throwing missiles forcing them to remain on the field of play under tight security for the whole of half-time break.
Reacting to the scenario, Nyamilandu, who described the situation as unfortunate, said the behaviour can lead to termination of Bulletsâ€™ sponsorship from Carlsberg Malawi.
“It is unfortunate that the teams seem not to listen to the appeal that was made by the sponsors on discipline. This act of malpractice can lead to termination of their sponsorship. If they lose this sponsorship, they should not blame anyone, but themselves.
“They must not forget where they are coming from and the miseries they went through during the past years. They need to appreciate the sponsorship they have now by behaving well during the games. It is easy to lose sponsorship than to find one,” said Nyamilandu.
Nyamilandu, who is accredited with securing the Carlsberg Malawi sponsorship for Bullets and Mighty Wanderers, lashed out at some Big Bullets officials for orchestrating the hooliganism, saying they need to be exemplary in their conduct.
“This hooliganism can lead to sponsors pulling out in football. As FAM, we will take drastic measures on supporters and clubs that are perpetrating this ill. We do not want to lose sponsorship which we are enjoying at the moment due to these disgruntled people. We do not want to put the image of the sponsors in disrepute. This is our serious warning. We will be falling the developments with a keen eye,â€™ he said.
Nyamilandu, however, appealed to the referees committee to deploy an officiating crew that is competent to avoid putting the game in bad light.
“We have seen sponsors pulling out because of bias officiation. Referees are conductors of the matches; hence, they need to be fair. They should not favour teams. Incompetence will not be an excuse,” he said.
While condemning hooliganism, Sulom president Innocent Bottomani appealed to teams to follow proper channels of airing out their grievances.
“The teams know the channels for lodging their concerns. We are condemning hooliganism 100 percent. As Sulom, we are meeting our legal adviser for the way forward on what happened on Sunday. We will give our stand on that. Supporters are part of the game, but they have no room to control the game,” said Bottomani.
Bullets coach Eddington Ngâ€™onamo accused referees from the Central Region of bias towards visiting teams, but the National Referees Committee (NRC) general secretary Chris Kalichero defended the referees on incompetence.
“I do not know what they mean when they say referees are incompetent. It would seem teams know the rules more than the referees. We do not say that referees cannot make mistakes. We have a referees sub-committee under FAM comprising veteran Fifa referees such as, McGovern Mpeni, Kalyoto Ngosi and Verson Lwanja.
“The committee assigns referees to officiate the games. So, I do not think these people with the vast experience they have can be assigning incompetent people,” said Kalichero.
Bullets general secretary Higger Mkandawire on Tuesday said they would lodge a complaint to Sulom over what he feels are refereesâ€™ bias towards teams from their regions.
“I have not heard any reports of our supporters causing violence in Lilongwe. It seems some people are bent on denting our image and plunging us in trouble. The issue of biased officiation is getting out of hand. Team travelling to Lilongwe and vice versa are complaining. Army teams also complain over bias towards civilian teams. It seems it is only the referees who are right,” Mkandawire said on Tuesday.
Mighty Wanderers were also involved in acts of hooliganism against Bullets during the launch of the Carlsberg Malawi sponsorship at Kamuzu Stadium on July 28.