At least five of the 16 TNM Super League clubs ignore Fifa regulations on mandatory medical assessment of players before the season kicks off, a development that puts footballers at risk of health problems.
Nation on Sunday survey established that some Be Forward Wanderers, Silver Strikers, Civil Sporting Club, Masters Security FC and Karonga United players either did not go through the exercise at the start of the season or used shortcuts to produce medical reports while the rest of the teams did.
Nevertheless, Football Association of Malawi (FAM) transfer matching system (TMS) and club licensing manager Casper Jangale said the local soccer governing body received medical reports indicating that all the top-flight league clubs underwent detailed medical assessment before the season kicked off in May.
The survey involved getting corroborated responses from at least three players from each of the Super League teams on how they were medically assessed prior to the 2019 season.
Fifa pre-competition medical assessment (PCMA) rules stipulate that “before players start participating in any sport, they should be medically examined to prevent harm and identify potentially significant medical conditions that might make playing football dangerous”.
One of Civil Sporting players said: “Of course, we have a team doctor, but I do not remember when we, as a team or individuals, underwent medical assessment prior to the 2019 season.”
His Wanderers counterparts said it was news to them that the club conducted the exercise before the start of the season.
“In as far as I can remember, we never went through such an exercise,” said a Nomads player.
A Silver player said: “As a Silver Strikers player, I would be lying if I say I underwent or noticed such an exercise at the club.”
On his part, a Masters player was surprised that the club submitted their medical reports to FAM as he said: “How come FAM has our medical reports yet we did not go through the check-ups?”
While his Karonga counterpart said: “I do not remember a day when we had a medical assessment exercise at the club except for a physical fitness test that FAM conducted a few weeks ago.”
FAM youth development officer James Sangala, who is in charge of that exercise, yesterday said the particular assessment was only meant to gauge players physical fitness levels and not medical fitness.
Civil Sporting general secretary Ronald Chiwaula admitted that the club did not have thorough medical assessment of their players.
“Basically, we determine the players’ feelings. If they are not feeling well, we take them to the hospital. We also have team doctors that determine players’ fitness levels, but such check-ups do not go deep into assessing other areas such as heart problems and blood pressure,” he said.
But he said they have requested some medical personnel to conduct thorough assessment on their players.
However, Silver general secretary Lawrence Yobe and his counterparts at Masters and Karonga Christopher Njeula and Ramzy Simwaka, respectively, claimed their clubs conducted the exercise.
“Maybe the players you have talked to did not go to the medical doctors we referred them to for the assessment, but we had that exercise and we ably produced the medical reports that we submitted to FAM,” Yobe said.
Wanderers chairperson Gift Mkandawire, who is the club’s official spokesperson, could not answer his mobile phones.
However, Jangale said FAM received medical reports from all the teams which appeared authentic
“When registering players for the Super League and Mpira Connect [FAM], all the clubs submitted their players’ medical certificates,” he said.
When asked whether FAM had done separate inquiry to determine if indeed all the players underwent the actual tests, Jangale said they could not doubt the authenticity of the medical reports they received from the clubs.
“We do not follow up how such papers are done, as long as the reports have stamps of reliable hospitals, that is enough evidence,” he said.
Jangale said it is the responsibility of the players to ensure that they are thoroughly checked before committing to play for the teams.
In established leagues anywhere in the world, a transfer move is not done and nor players are allowed to feature in organised competitions until they pass their clubs’ rigorous check-ups.