Police asked not fire teargas anyhow as their actions facilitated the abandonment
* SULOM disciplinary committee has to heavily rely on video clip evidence of the abandoned May 1 Blantyre derby
By Duncan Mlanjira
After its thorough investigations of the abandoned May 1 Blantyre derby between arch rivals Mighty Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets, the Super League of Malawi (SULOM) disciplinary committee has faulted documentary evidence that were presented for the hearing.
In its Wednesday, May 19 verdict, the disciplinary committee says it “had recourse to documentary evidence in form of Referees Report, Match Assessors Report Video Documentary, Police Report, Stewards, Kamuzu Stadium officials and Sulom Representatives as well as those from the two team themselves”.
The committee thus advises the TNM Super League governing body, SULOM “to formally write National Referees Committee to advise them to ensure that match reports issued are clear and precise and that the match coordinators and all service providers write reports at the end of any match”.
“Sulom should ensure that safety and security providers are oriented on proper standards [and that] Police officers should not fire teargas anyhow as their actions facilitated the game abandonment.”
During the match, teargas was fired following the throwing of stones by Wanderers supporters and that the conduct of some Wanderers players and officials “was not exemplary”.
At one point of the match, a Nyasa Big Bullets supporter invaded the pitch and the disciplinary committee have charged Wanderers and Bullets with “failure to control the actions of supporters who threw stones, bottles and other objects onto the pitch and a supporter allegedly of Bullets invaded the pitch”.
This is contrary to articles 21(11), 21(13), 21(17), 21(30), 21(31) and 21(32) of the SULOM Rules and Regulations and bringing the game of football into disrepute contrary to article 21 of the SULOM Rules and Regulations.
The Committee adds that the video evidence shows referee Gift Chiko showing that Wanderers’ defender Stanley Sanudi was cautioned for delaying the restart of the match while Alfred Manyozo Jnr. was shown a yellow card for the offence of dissent by word.
Wanderers’ Ted Sumani was cautioned for a second bookable offence “but the first bookable offence of yellow card was not recorded”.
The video clip evidence shows Wanderers players confronting the referee at 67th minute of the match in which Sanudi challenged 1st assistant referee, Bernadetta Kwimbira “to the extent of having physical contact with her”.
“The content of the insult was not specified [in the referee’s report],” says the verdict. “Ordinarily, the meaning of an insult is to ‘speak to or treat with disrespect or scornfully abuse, being disrespectful’.
“According to Law 12 of the Internal Football Association Board (IFAB) Laws of the Game, an insult consists of abusive language and/or gestures which is also consistent with the meaning ascribed to herein.
“Without knowing the content of the words, it was hard for Committee to determine whether the confrontational action was abusive or insulting. The charge is therefore dismissed.
“From the clip, there is no evidence showing the nature of word used against the assistant referee. However, the conduct of the players was deplorable hence the Committee has already found the players in the wrong under the second charge.”
From the tone of the verdict, it relied mostly on the video footage it was provided of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 50 seconds that also captured Wanderers supporter dressed in his team’s colors of blue and white “sitting at the Stand E where “Wanderers supporters traditionally sit [and was] seen breaking a concrete slab”.
“The behavior of the person is consistent with being angered. Be Forward Wanderers supporters had accumulated anger from 66th minute when Stanley Sanudi protested a corner kick which was not awarded to them.
“After the protest, the referee showed Stanley Sanudi a yellow card.
Instead of stopping the game, the referee let the game proceed and this angered Be Forward Wanderers players including the captain Manyozo, who protested and [was] yellow-carded together with Ted Sumani.”
The video evidence shows that the referee then showed a red card to Sumani and the Bullets went on to equalize in the 70th minute of the game “and at 82mins the stones were seen been broken from stands”.
“The reasonable conclusion the Committee has drawn is that the Be Forward Wanderers supporters were the ones that were angered. Therefore, it was more likely than not that the persons who threw stones in the pitch were Be Forward Wanderers supporters.
“The evidence of Mr. P. Nkuta, Mr. Mtosa, and Ms. Ndawala and the match assessors report all corroborated this conclusion.”
“Having not seen any evidence from the video clip of any stone-throwing from the traditional Bullets stands, this allegation has been squarely proved against Wanderers.”
Also under scrutiny was a supporter who at halftime invaded the pitch and poured some liquid at Wanderers’ goal posts and this offence has been quoted as that of Article 41 of the SULOM Rules and Regulations provides but this is “for anti-doping, hence a misquoted charge [and] it was therefore withdrawn”.
“Invading the pitch by a supporter contrary is to article 21.49 of SULOM Rules and Regulations. The clip doesn’t show the invasion. It was on halftime, hence understandable.
“However, evidence of Mr. P. Nkuta — national chief steward, the person emanated from the stand where Nyasa Big Bullets supporters were. He also returned to the same stand after pouring some liquid onto the goals of Be Forward Wanderers.
“He was not arrested since the security personnel was overpowered. Considering the tension between the two teams, it was less likely than not that a Be Forward Wanderers supporter could be found at the stand of Nyasa Big Bullets at such a derby.
“Moreover, the fact of returning to the same stand after pouring some liquid onto the goals without being attacked by the Nyasa Big Bullets supporters is consistent with being one of their own.
“It was therefore concluded by the Committee, on the balance of probabilities, that the pitch invader was a Nyasa Big Bullets supporter [and] therefore, Big Bullets shall be liable for the action of its supporter.
“The Committee, therefore, finds Nyasa Big Bullets guilty of the offence of invading the pitch by a supporter.”
As the disciplinary committee had to heavily relied on video evidence, it thus recommended that referees should present clear and precise match reports and that the match coordinators — including all service providers such as the Police as well as those from the teams themselves — must “write reports at the end of any match”.