By Duncan Mlanjira
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) has been forced to disassociate itself from the furore that has arisen over the association’s purported sponsorship of MBC TV’s live coverage on Friday last week of the submission of presidential nomination papers by State President Arthur Peter Mutharika at Chichiri Convention Centre, commonly known as Comesa Hall.
All along the state broadcaster had not been covering live the proceedings of the submission of nomination papers for various parties and independent candidates from Monday last week, which were ably monitored by Times TV and Zodiak Broadcasting Station but on Friday, MBC pitched up for Mutharika’s Democratic Progress Party (DPP).
And on the screen there was a message that said “coverage proudly sponsored by Football Association of Malawi”.
This did not go down well with the public through social media, which is accusing FAM of bias since MBC never bothered to cover the other political parties and independents, questioning why the local football governing body chose just to sponsor the DPP event.
But FAM has distanced itself from this, saying: “The fact of the matter is that FAM did not sponsor any programme as portrayed. FAM entered into an agreement with MBC to broadcast promotional 60 seconds spot adverts, and not programme sponsorship, for the Rough Diamonds Tournament which the Association hosted on 9th and 10th February 2019 at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe.
“We further would like to assure all our stakeholders that FAM operates independently and is apolitical in the manner in which it conducts its affairs as per its statutes,” said the press release distributed on Monday, February 11.
On what was later attributed as fake Super League of Malawi Facebook account, FAM’s Commercial & Marketing Director, Limbani Cliff Matola, is quoted as confirming “the football governing body really sponsored APM’s function by saying it was a ‘marketing strategy.’
The supposedly Super League of Malawi Facebook account alleges that “FAM paid MBC K922,680 for the station to beam APM nomination paper presentation”.
When brought to his attention, Matola said: “This is very WRONG. Full of innuendos. He who has done this has personally wronged me. But my spirit says he should be forgiven.”
“And FOTE ways also on Times today telling the nation that FAM has paid MBC over K1 million…Again that was very WRONG and misleading the innocent public. We beseech you gentlemen by the mercies of God to be proud of this noble profession and strive to project nothing but the truth. If you can’t write the truth at least provide factual presentation,” said Matola on a journalists’ whatsapp Group.
He refused to comment further and only referred us to the General Secretary Alfred Gunda, who said: “FAM made the decision to run the adverts on Friday because of the changes that were made on Thursday regarding the organization of the tournament.
“Firstly, the tournament was scheduled to take place at Civo Stadium and fans were going to pay an entrance fee. But a decision was made on Thursday evening that the games should move to Bingu Stadium and be free of charge.
“There was need to communicate these important changes to our stakeholders considering that the tournament was just 24 hours away. We only had Friday to make noise about the change. Thus, we engaged Times and MBC with instructions that they should be playing 60 second adverts between 12noon and 5pm in their programming schedules.
“FAM instruction was simple that the broadcasters should play spot adverts. We have engaged the management of MBC and we have expressed our concern and we are working on how best to clarify the matter from their perspective noting that we were not a programme sponsor,” Gunda said.