In a new twist to the Northern Region Football Association (NRFA) league title controversy, nine of the 20 Premier League teams have threatened to boycott the next season unless the current committee steps down.
Chilumba Barracks FC, Kaporo Stars, Ekwendeni Hammers, Ekwendeni United, Karonga United, Kabwafu FC, Rumphi Medicals, Kawalazi FC and Enukweni FC confirmed to Weekend Nation that they consulted within the week because they have lost confidence in their current administrators following the controversy surrounding the TNM Super League promotion battle.
They believe that it is an embarrassment for the league to end in controversy for the third time in a row and they suspect there is something fishy happening between the committee and the declared champions Mzuzu University FC, who have been at the centre of the storm in each of the controversies.
However, NRFA general secretary Alfred Gunda said it is a non-starter to succumb to the step down calls and he believes the teams are being driven by some power-hungry individuals who want to gain some political mileage out of the issue, which just requires proper understanding to be sorted out.
Last week, Mzuni were declared champions through a boardroom decision after Kaporo United boycotted their rescheduled fixture, claiming they were being used by the league to advance its interest of giving the title to Mzuni, who earned a 2-0 bonus victory.
Kaporo won the initial match 1-0 but FAM agreed with the NRFA disciplinary committee’s decision to order the replay arguing the rules were breached when an unqualified referee was allowed to officiate the match. If Kaporo’s initial victory was accepted, Mzuni would have finished second to Chilumba Barracks.
Similar scenarios occurred during the two previous seasons when Mzuni were involved in promotion battles with Karonga FC and Kabwafu FC. Nevertheless, Mzuni lost the cases.
“We believe Mzuni has been favoured too long by the administrators of the league to the effect that we have finally lost confidence in their leadership,” said Ekwendeni United’s team manager Gerald Dube.
“However, we will not fight against Mzuni’s promotion anymore as FAM, the country’s football mother body, has made a final decision but we will not be at peace to have the current committee handling our games next season.”
While admitting they would not join the league under the guidance of the current committee, Kaporo FC patron Alufeyo Banda wondered why only that particular match had to be replayed due to being officiated by unqualified referee when the game that saw Mzuni beat Obama FC 8-1 was replayed under similar circumstances.
But Gunda said the teams can go on with the boycott because that would probably save the league from the hustles of overseeing a competition whose contestants do not understand the rules of the game.
“I think teams need a lot of education to understand football rules in our fold before they can start pointing accusing fingers at us. If we had indeed made a mistake in ordering the replay, FAM could have decided otherwise.
“It is better to have few teams that follow and understand the league’s rules,” Gunda said.
When asked why the NRFA controversies keep on popping up each season under their nose, FAM chief executive officer Suzgo Nyirenda said it was because such issues were not officially reported to the local football governing body and that the league was not yet restructured.
“It was only last season that we got such queries. We did our best to address the issue and we never thought it would come back. Nevertheless, we will soon summon all those involved with football matters in the league to map the way forward.
“We need to revisit their (the NRFA) constitution to probably make it better and scrutinise all their fixtures before the leagues kick-off,” Nyirenda said.
The developments are coming up at a time the sponsor of the K3million league Bishop Abraham Simama has also expressed disappointment with the controversies.