City of Lusaka has questioned the decision by the Football Association of Zambia to ban the club from hosting MTN/FAZ super devision games at the newly refurbished Vodafone Stadium on grounds that the Internet data provider is a competitor of the telecommunication company which sponsors the league.

In a statement released today, “City Yamoto” communications manager Alex Basopo wondered how FAZ could go against the trend that was globally accepted in the world of soccer.

“The move taken by the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) to ban City of Lusaka Football Club from using its Vodafone Stadium in Lusaka is retrogressive and has the potential to scare away investors. Their argument that City of Lusaka sponsors, Vodafone is a competitor with MTN, the official sponsors of Super Division in the provision of ISP services and cannot therefore have presence at the Stadium does not hold water.
It is sad that FAZ has further threatened to demote City of Lusaka to amateur football if it seeks legal redress. It is our belief that our men and women at Football House have traversed the world and they know very well how other leagues are managed,” Basopo said.

“The English Premier League is sponsored by Barclays Cup and yet the shirt sponsors for Liverpool Football Club is Standard Chartered Bank. Before Stan Chart came on board, Carlsberg used to sponsor Liverpool, yet UEFA never penalised it for participating in the Champions League which for a long time has been sponsored by Heinekein. We feel ill-treated and let down by the stance taken by the association particularly that they were ‘aware’ before City of Lusaka signed a contract with Vodafone.”

He said the club had tried to reason with MTN but to no avail.

“We have tried to engage them over the matter but they have maintained their position. It is shocking that the Football House can even threaten to relegate us to amateur football if we try to seek legal redress over this matter. A lot of investors both within and outside the country have contacted us over the past week and expressed their displeasure over the stance taken by Football House. FAZ seems eager to chase away other potential investors in football in the country in order to protect one corporate entity for reasons best known to themselves,” Basopo said.

“The money MTN offers for sponsorship of the league is not enough to sustain clubs, and it is the reason why clubs should look for other partnerships with the corporate world, and FAZ should in fact be encouraging them to do so. For instance, should City of Lusaka finish in the bottom four, they are likely to receive about K10,000 [$1,000], which is not even enough to fulfil a single league fixture. We expect FAZ to provide thought leadership in this matter. They must deal with it decisively and they must spell out to all the clubs in Zambia which investors they can work with. Threats and intimidation will not take us anywhere.

The club further challenged FAZ to disclose how much money Football House was getting from MTN.

“We further challenge FAZ to disclose the whole MTN deal to the football family in Zambia. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and other bodies must also take a keen interest in this matter.
We would like to thank other Super Division teams that have stood with us over this cardinal matter,” said Basopo.

“We would like to further inform our fans that City of Lusaka will host Green Buffaloes in the MTN/FAZ Super Division Week 27 at Nkoloma Stadium in Lusaka on Sunday.”