CITY of Lusaka sponsors Vodafone have expressed disappointment with Football Association of Zambia’s movement of the game with Nkana from the former’s home ground to Nkoloma Stadium.
The club has since rescheduled the official unveiling of the Vodafone Stadium which was previously known as Woodlands Stadium.
City of Lusaka was today scheduled to host Nkana in a match that was expected to coincide with the official unveiling of the Vodafone Stadium.
But the Football Association of Zambia moved the game to Nkoloma Stadium in Chelstone following a misunderstanding among sponsors of City of Lusaka, Super Division and FAZ.
Vodafone has since apologized to City fans who had wanted to watch the game at the newly refurbished stadium.
Vodafone Zambia CEO Lars Stork said he was disappointed with the decision as it risked demoralizing clubs seeking partnerships with corporate sponsors.
“While I respect the decision by the Football Association, I am disappointed at the outcome of events. This can severely affect the morale of clubs looking to partner with corporate sponsors for the benefit of the game,”
He said he had been and was still fully committed to participate in a negotiation with all parties concerned and was confident that a solution would be found, allowing the City to play the balance of their home games at the refurbished Vodafone Stadium.
“My philosophy is quite simple: competition is the critical driver of performance and innovation. It benefits consumers by enabling more choice from an array of quality products and services. Healthy competition also encourages our businesses to continuously improve the quality of services leading to a healthy growth of the total market. A pre-requisite for this to flourish however, is that organizations such as FAZ and any other relevant stakeholders for that matter provide a level playing field for Zambian businesses to participate in the game that unites us all,”
He further emphasized Vodafone’s commitment to the City of Lusaka Football Club.
“We are genuinely committed to the growth of Zambian football. It is exciting to see more corporates invest in the sport that unites us all. This is more than a marketing exercise for us, it goes to the very core of our business – ensuring we make a meaningful impact in the communities in which we operate. Therefore, despite the decision, we will continue supporting City of Lusaka and reaffirm our commitment to as the club’s official sponsor,” said Stork.
City of Lusaka has also refuted social media reports that they had been banned from using Vodafone Stadium for the rest of the season.
FAZ communications manager Desmond Katongo was unavailable for comment as his mobile phone was switched off.
Meanwhile, sources close to the discussions have revealed that the soccer body was failing to make independent decisions.
“The very essence of the love of the game of football that unites the country has been dictated by corporate interests due to FAZ not being able to give guidance. FAZ as the governing body has shown stakeholders that they do not have control of the governing issues that cripple the game the country enjoys, which has caused confusion in the game and undermined the future of football in Zambia. Failing to address sponsorship parameters has left clubs and more importantly fans disappointed. It has also raised concerns to current and future sponsors at FAZ’s lack of knowledge and ability to constrain corporate interests at the expense of development when addressing stakeholders,”
the source said.
“The day’s fiasco could have been avoided by having intelligent dialogue as opposed to sponsors trying to salvage the events of the day. It is common practice for leagues, teams and clubs to be sponsored by competitors and still maintain a professional decorum because it is believed the the game is what is actually promoted and sponsors are actually tools for support of the game whilst the teams and clubs are left to focus on winning the games. FAZ needed to stand firm and resolve the issues but has shown clubs and fans that they do not actually have the powers nor the capacity to deal with modern football in a global perspective and clearly demonstrated the weakness of the organization with MTN dictating rules of engagement without sharing the rule book!”