IN a twist of events, Rwanda Football Federation (Ferwafa) has overturned an earlier decision in which the soccer governing body had indefinitely called off the Rayon, APR return leg league tie that had been scheduled for this Sunday.
After a lengthy meeting with Rayon Sports officials, yesterday evening, the Ferwafa executive committee led by the chairman De Gaulle Vincent Nzamwita gave a green light for the country’s top rival clubs to face off in the Turbo King national league fixture as earlier planned on Sunday.
“After weighing all options, we have decided that the Rayon Sports and APR match should go on as earlier planned on Sunday at Stade de Kigali,” Nzamwita said after the meeting held at Ferwafa headquarters in Remera.
He emphasised that the federation discussed its concerns with Rayon Sports, which will be hosting the match and they (Rayon) agreed to address them. To regulate the number of fans who will access the stadium, only 7000 tickets will be sold.
“Only 7000 tickets will be sold and this has been reached to avoid anything that could cause any kind of accidents. Gates will close at 2.45pm and police will maintain security in and outside the stadium,” said Nzamwita who added that the federation’s main worry was the capacity of the stadium.
“At first we could not think how Stade de Kigali could accommodate 30,000 fans but after looking at all options, we found suitable measures to control fans at Stade de Kigali rather than having the match shifted to Muhanga,” noted Nzamwita.
Rayon Sports FC Chairman Théogène Ntampaka welcomed the decision and urged that it is always better to have such engagements before critical decisions are taken.
“We will ensure that we implement all decisions that have been reached in our meeting with Ferwafa regarding Sunday’s match. I call upon our fans to exercise discipline such that all worries and fears mentioned can be avoided,” added Ntampaka.
Ferwafa and Rayon Sports have agreed to have match tickets sold at Rwf 3000, Rwf 5000 and Rwf10,000 for ordinary, VIP and VVIP respectively.
Rayon threatens to withdraw from competitions
Wednesday’s meeting came abruptly as Rayon Sports threatened to withdraw from all football competitions if Ferwafa did not rescind from its decision of moving the game to April as earlier reached in their Tuesday meeting.
On Tuesday, Ferwafa took the decision arguing that the stadium may not accommodate the expected number of fans. Rayon and APR are arguably the most popular teams in the country.
In less than 12 hours, Rayon Sports issued a statement threatening to withdraw from all domestic football competitions if Ferwafa does not reverse its decision to postpone the team’s return leg.
Ferwafa wanted 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, said the decision would hurt them since they expected to raise funds from the game in gate collections, which is critical for their administrative functions.
Rayon further added that the reasons behind the decision were not convincing. In his remarks early on Wednesday, Ntampaka said, “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, Emmanuel Gasana, and all the clubs featuring in the Turbo King Football League.
The Rwanda National Police also reiterated saying they had no role in the decision to postpone the match, assuring the public of its potential to provide enough security.
“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 yesterday morning.
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.”
In a previous match in November last year, APR beat Rayon Sports 1-0 at Amahoro stadium courtesy of Charles Bayingana’s strike.
With 20 matches played this season, APR leads the Turbo King League standings with 49 points, three ahead of Rayon Sports.