League champions Rayon Sports have threatened to withdraw from all domestic football competitions if local football association (Ferwafa) does not reverse its decision to postpone the team’s return leg against archrivals APR initially scheduled for Sunday at Stade de Kigali.
Ferwafa took the decision on Tuesday arguing that the stadium may not accommodate the expected number of fans. Rayon and APR are arguably the most popular teams in the country.
Ferwafa wants the game to be played after the Genocide memorial week (which runs from April 7-13) because that’s the earliest Amahoro National Stadium will be available for games.
But Rayon, the hosts in the fixture, say the decision would hurt them since they expected to raise funds from the game in gate collections, which is critical for their administrative functions.
The Tuesday meeting, at the Ferwafa offices in Remera, was also attended by officials from the two football teams and the Rwanda National Police.
Rayon say the reasons behind the decision are not convincing and have since issued a statement threatening to withdraw from all local competitions if Ferwafa does not rescind its decision.
“We are shocked by the decision Ferwafa took just five days to the game, supposedly due to security concerns,” Rayon Sports president Theogene Ntampaka said in a statement released today.
He added: “We know the capacity of our Police Force, they would comfortably ensure everyone’s safe. They have always done a good job in our matches against APR and I don’t see why anyone should question their ability this time round”.
“If Ferwafa does not reverse their decision and let the match take place as had been scheduled, Rayon Sports will not be able to continue participating in all football competitions this season,” Ntampaka added.
The statement, addressed to Ferwafa, was copied to the Minister of Sports and Culture, Protais Mitali, Inspector General of Police, Emanuel Gasana, and all the clubs featuring in the Turbo King Football League.
Meanwhile, the Rwanda National Police said they played no role in the decision to postpone the match.
“Police don’t take decisions on behalf of Ferwafa. It’s Ferwafa which postponed the game due to their concerns about the capacity of the stadium,” Police spokesman ACP Damas Gatare said today.
He added: “Police have the responsibility to ensure security to citizens anywhere. It’s not the first time we would be doing it at a football match”.
“We have no concerns at all; we believe we have the capacity to keep security tight at any stadium in whatever circumstances.”
The New Times understands that a meeting is scheduled at the Ministry of Sports later today to try to end the deadlock.