Cosafa Under-17 Youth Championships local organising committee (LOC) has introduced entry fees for the Junior Flames’ remaining matches.
LOC chairperson Jabber Alide confirmed the development yesterday, saying their decision has been made as a crowd-control measure after being overwhelmed by a large turn-out during the Junior Flames’ match against South Africa’s Amajimbos on Saturday.
Initially, soccer lovers acquired free tickets to get into the 10 000-capacity Mpira Stadium in Chiwembe Township, but Alide said they were surprised on Saturday that the venue was filled to capacity.
Many fans failed to enter the stadium as the Junior Flames thrashed the Amajimbos 3-0.
He said entry fee to the open stands is expected to be K500 while at the covered terraces it will be K2 000.
Alide said they could not succumb to pressure to shift potentially crowd-pulling games to the spacious Kamuzu Stadium since such an arrangement could be costly.
“Honestly, we did not expect that this youth competition could attract such overwhelming crowd. We will continue using Mpira Stadium as the principal venue, but there will be a cover charge,” he said.
“We could not shift the games to Kamuzu Stadium because there will be a lot of things involved. For instance, the television personnel will have to uninstall all their equipment from Chiwembe and mount them at Kamuzu Stadium and there are additional costs for that.”
Alide said Kamuzu Stadium will mostly be used in critical situations such as when decisive matches for the knock-out stage require to be played concurrently to avoid match-fixing possibilities.
Football analyst Humphrey Mvula welcomed LOC’s decision, but said the charges could have been introduced before the competition kicked off.
“As you know, Malawians love watching football and with the absence of top-flight league games this week in Blantyre, they could not resist the opportunity of getting entertained at the youth football event,” he said.
Mvula added that Kamuzu Stadium could have been an ideal venue for the Junior Flames’ games “considering that it is at a centralised place for soccer lovers unlike Mpira Stadium”. Nevertheless, Junior Flames’ coach Deklerk Msakakuona yesterday said they are ready to burn e-Swatini (formerly Swaziland) this afternoon to increase their chances of qualifying forthe semi-finals.