Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Silver Strikers Football Club's Take on Balaka Violence
Silver Strikers Football Club would like to condole the family of Lemiyasi Josita on his untimely and tragic death caused by the stampede that occurred at Balaka Stadium on Saturday 28th December, 2013. The stampede occurred after Malawi Police Service threw teargas canisters at the unsuspecting supporters inside the stadium thereby making the supporters run in all directions, scrambling for fresh air thereby stepping on Mr. Josita who was later pronounced dead at Balaka District Hospital. Silver Strikers Football Club regrets this untimely death and prays to God to comfort the family in these very difficult times.
Silver Strikers Football Club would like to call upon Malawi Police Service, Football Association of Malawi, Super League of Malawi and all football stakeholders to thoroughly investigate the death of Mr. Josita because football matches are supposed to be safe places for families and individuals as thousands and thousands of supporters go there hence any death should be taken very seriously. The events leading to the death of Mr. Josita should be properly examined and solutions found so that nothing like that happens again in the football life of Malawi to protect lives of all people at all times. Football being number one sport and patronised by thousands people, the safety of spectators should be the utmost priority at all times.
ISSUES OF VIOLENCE AT BALAKA STADIUM
Silver Strikers Football Club would like to call upon authorities to thoroughly investigate the violence at Balaka Stadium. The Preliminary findings by Silver Strikers show that violence was started by Mighty Wanderers Football Club supporters after they grabbed a Big Bullets scarf from a bullets fan and later grabbed another Silver Strikers scarf from Rhoda Nkhata who was in accompany of Pilirani Mdeza when they were returning from rest rooms which was around 50 minutes into the match which was early in the second half. When Rhoda tried to get her scarf back from Wanderers supporters, she was severely beaten by Wanderers supporters and in the process she suffered severe head injuries and big cut on the forehead and had to be stitched by Silver Strikers team doctor right inside the Stadium.
Mighty Wanderers Football Club fans burnt the Big Bullets and Silver Strikers scarfs whilst warming their drums on the scarf fire and shouting “sitiopa ban ife! Sitiopa ban ife!” Because of the beating of Rhoda Nkhata and burning of scarfs, and in defence of their number by Silver Strikers Football Club Supporters, violence erupted between two teams leading to the natural separation of two opposing camps of supporters leaving no man’s land between the supporters as each camp occupied one side, each corner. As there was a gap between the supporters which could have given an opportunity to police or stewards to occupy the place, create a buffer zone and quell the situation once and for all, we were shocked to find police throwing teargas at supporters who then had to scamper for safety and the process damaging the Stadium’s inside fence and causing stampede that claimed one life and several injuries. Later Wanderers fans occupied the field of play refusing to leave the pitch prompting the abandonment of the match. Our Captain was later summoned by the Match Commissioner from the dressing room that the match would not continue. This was done after had already changed their uniforms. However, it is very clear as to who started violence and who escalated the situation.
Silver Strikers Football Club is also deeply concerned with reports that sports journalists Chisomo Mwamadi of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Radio and TV and Mike Bango of Zodiak Broadcasting Corporation Radio and TV were assaulted by Wanderers fans. We call upon authorities to investigate this and decisively punish the perpetrators as our sports journalists are supposed to be secure during football matches.
THE QUESTION OF REPLAY
Silver Strikers Football Club is disturbed to read and listen from the media that SULOM has decided that the match would be replayed. We are surprised at this decision as the matter has not been thoroughly investigated and affected sides, in particular, Silver Strikers Football Club, have not been heard. No decision can be made without hearing the sides of those likely to be affected by the decision being made We are left wondering as to why Sulom has made this decision without first hearing both sides including sharing police and match commissioner’s reports. We find this to be a dangerous precedent as supporters would easily take this as a precedent where matches would deliberately be abandoned due to violence in anticipation for a replay. SULOM needs to be very cautious on this, stand firm and not favour Wanderers by insisting on replay because this would be considered as conspiracy by Mighty Wanderers Football Club to cause violence and ask for a replay as they were losing.
Further we are mindful of Article 14 of Sulom Constitution which provided that a club would be punished for failing to provide adequate security at its venue. Media reports indicate that Police raised issues of security and Wanderers failed to provide enough security at its venue. We hope SULOM will look at this in terms addressing the issue of abandonment of the match.
Silver Strikers Football Club is mindful that when a match is abandoned it does not follow that it should be replayed in full, rather the remaining match time is played. In the recent Match on 11th December, 2013, the game between Juventus and Galatasaray was played for only the remaining minutes of the game rather than the whole match. This was after the match was abandoned at 32 minutes due to snow. Silver Strikers expect the same on this match as 65 minutes were played already hence there were only 25 minutes to go and Silver Strikers expects that the match will resume to play the remaining 29 minutes. This will serve to avoid giving the losing team unfair advantage.
FOLLOW UP ON ISSUES
Silver Strikers Football Club expects that all issues surrounding violence shall be followed up. This include the pre-match conduct of Mighty Wanderers Football Club who prevented Silver Strikers Football Club from training at Balaka Stadium and the refusal by Mighty Wanderers Football Club to let Silver Strikers Football Club officials enter the stadium for pre-match meetings in the morning of that Saturday until SULOM officials intervened. Silver expects SULOM to follow up on the conduct of the Mighty Wanderers Football Club General Secretary prior to the match who made wild and defamatory accusations of bribery which brings the game into disrepute.
Silver Strikers Football Club again reminds football authorities to examine previous conduct of Mighty Wanderers Football Club. While Mighty Wanderers Football Club is serving long ban which include playing in an empty stadium, at the same time it has continued to be involved in hooliganism with teams like Red Lions, Mzuzu United Mponela United and now Silver Strikers. This should give a wakeup call to the authorities on how to seriously address issues of hooliganism We also understand that the abandoned match was supposed to be played in an empty Stadium at Kamuzu Stadium after Mighty Wanderers Football Club served the 10 match home ground ban. Curiously, Mighty Wanderers Football Club managed to have the match played at Balaka Stadium.
30th December, 2013