Football Association of Malawi’s (FAM) says Kamuzu Stadium is fit to host the Flames’ high profile 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Cameroon although Fifa and Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) are yet to inspect it.
A report after 2017 inspection by Fifa consultants—UK-based Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA)—put the stadium’s capacity at 0 and said it could only be used “dependent upon the level of compliance after further reassessment is undertaken”.
It further stated that upon passing the test, the capacity would be reduced to 14 400 from 22 000.
The assessment would be done after the getting reports, certificates and test on “structural integrity such as stands, floodlights, boundary fences and media platforms”.
“Upgrading is required to infrastructure to include: repairing of all gully covers and concrete trip hazards; ensuring all exits are usable, level, and safe; upgrading of all toilet facilities; providing a control room fit for purpose which allows for command and control of stewarding, including CCTV, PA, ingress monitoring and a radio control system; ensuring accessibility to the stadium for all spectators including disabled spectators and those with limited mobility,” the report from Fifa reads in part.
However, apart repairing of gully covers and upgrading of toilet facilities, some of the recommendations have not been implemented.
Stadium owners, Ministry of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development pushed the blame on the failure to have the stadium inspected on FAM.
Director of Sports Jameson Ndalama said after completing renovations they asked FAM to request either CAF or Fifa to inspect the facility.
“We got no response from FAM. All we know is that games are now being played at the venue. It is very difficult to know whether the stadium is up to the Fifa and CAF standards in the absence of the inspectors’ report,” he said.
The Fifa report also called for a formation of Safety Advisory Group (SAG) for both the Kamuzu Stadium and Bingu National Stadium (BNS) to promote the principles of integrated spectator safety management.
However, FAM president Walter Nyamilandu yesterday said the stadium was not closed on saftey concerns, but rather due to a poor playing surface.
“As far as we are concerned, Fifa never closed Kamuzu Stadium. The consultant only made recommendations some of which have been done,” he said.
Nyamilandu also assured of spectators’ safety.
“The safety of our fans is our number one priority and you can be rest assured that there will be a maximum security. We will be strict on sitting capacity and we will not compromise on security,” he said.
Kamuzu Stadium was closed in 2016 and only reopened a month ago.
Soccer analyst Charles Nyirenda wondered why FAM has settled for the 14 000 capacity stadium for the Cameroon match when they is a 40 000-seater BNS available.