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BIG TEAMS are BOOZE SMUGGLERS

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MBABANE – “Some elite league teams use their cooler boxes to smuggle alcohol into the stadiums.”

This was revealed by the Premier League of Eswatini (PLE) stadium representatives during the PLE Match Officials Workshop, which was held at Sigwaca House yesterday. It is not just the bottled water and energy drinks they cool in the cooler boxes but more than what is required by the players. The workshop was to review the past season’s successes and challenges faced by the officials while executing their job during the games under the MTN Eswatini sponsorship banner, which is the Premier and National First Division Leagues. The officials informed the PLE Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Kenneth Makhanya that a lot went well in the past season as the organisation fully recognised them, which showed that they were growing as stadium representatives.

“The office also paid us on time which makes our job easier unlike in the past where we would send our claims and they were ignored. We are happy CEO now that this is water under the bridge,” said an official. They also informed the CEO that they were faced with a number of challenges in the previous season, which included lack of match-day soccer balls, arriving late in games, but the major one was that of teams’ officials smuggling alcohol into the stadium using the cooler boxes.

Caught

“Your office CEO should also address the issue of alcohol during games. You will be surprised that the teams use their cooler boxes to carry alcohol into the stadium. I caught a number of them, but I will not mention them here,” one official revealed. The stadium representatives also wanted the office of the CEO to clarify the role of the police in stadiums as they came in numbers, but when approached to help when fans gained entry through illegal openings, they allegedly did not help. In response, Makhanya said they were working on the same issues raised as they had made a provision for soccer balls in the upcoming season. “Coming to the issue of alcohol beverages, it remains banned in our stadiums but since most of our football supporters imbibe it, we are planning on looking for a company that would provide it in the stadiums,” Makhanya said.

He, however, said this company would have to buy the selling rights from them, in turn generating revenue for the PLE and its members. The company would be expected to ensure it sold the drinks in safe plastic cups as bottles and cans are the reason behind the current ban. At least three elite teams’ officials were asked about this and speaking on condition of anonymity, only one admitted knowledge of such happening even though he said it was not his team per se but another, which they had co-hosted with at Mavuso Sports Centre. The other two said it only meant that there should be improved measures at the entry points and professionalism from club officials as this was embarrassing the local game.

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