Football Players Association of Malawi (Fpam) has resolved to adjust its annual membership fee from K5 000 to K150 000 this year, representing nearly a 3 000 percent hike.
The association was formed in 2017 to look after the welfare of footballers amid an outcry that players live miserably after retirement.
Justifying the fee hike, Fpam general secretary (GS) Ernest Mangani said it was a result of clubs’ failure to contribute funds to help in securing players’ health and life insurance.
Fpam said it proposed that clubs should be contributing six percent of their gate collections, but there has been strong resistance.
“We pegged the membership fee at K5 000 because we were hoping to strike a deal with the clubs on the gate collection cut. But since the clubs are refusing we have no choice but to raise it,” he said.
FPAM has been struggling to mobilise more players to join the association and currently the membership is at 85, way below its target of 400.
Asked if the new fees is not prohibitive, Mangani hoped that the move would force clubs to contribute to players’ welfare.
“We know the revised membership fee is too high for most players. However, we believe that it will inspire players to take a hardline stand against their clubs so that they start paying for them,” he said.
Mangani said if the players do not act, they will continue to suffer despite football making massive financial gains.
“Most players are living miserable lives. They pocket as little as K40 000 or less per month. This is despite the fact that they are the key stakeholders of the game,” he said.
Meanwhile, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) general secretary Alfred Gunda said Fpam operates independently, therefore, the soccer governing body cannot regulate the membership fee.
He, however, said they have been supporting the players association in lobbying clubs to embrace it.
“Slowly some clubs are appreciating the efforts to improve the players’ welfare. But this is a process that cannot be accomplished in the short term. We are hopeful that the clubs will start to fully support the initiative,” he said.
Bullets midfielder Fischer Kondowe, a staunch advocate of players’ welfare initiatives, said although the adjustment is high, he was quick to point out that the Fpam’s decision is justified.
“The association is there for a good cause. It is just unfortunate that they are not receiving support from other stakeholders,” he said.
In the meantime, Kondowe has urged the association to intensify its awareness campaign so that more players can understand the initiative to join.