Zifa, PSL must act on violence

HARARE - The football leadership in this country must act decisively against the hooligans that marred Sunday's Bob91 Super Cup play-off match between Highlanders and CAPS United at Barbourfields Stadium.

United won the match, courtesy of goals from Roderick Mutuma and Takudzwa Mahori to seal a final berth against Dynamos, but the match will be largely remembered for the violent scenes during and after the match.

The game came to a standstill in the 71st when Highlanders fans pelted United goalkeeper Victor Twaliki with missiles which resulted in Obadiah Tarumbwa's contentious consolation strike.

This prompted a 10-minute stoppage as Makepekepe players protested against the decision by referee Philani Ncube to allow the goal to stand.

WAR ZONE: CAPS United defender Stephen Makatuka, right, shows cameras the bottle that struck goalkeeper Victor Twaliki shortly before Obediah Tarumbwa's contentious goal on Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium. Pic: Nash Mkokwayarira.

In the end, the United players allowed common sense to prevail and returned to the pitch to continue with the match.

However, this did not go down well with the Makepekepe fans, who retaliated by targeting Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda with missiles of their own.

Police details at the venue looked clueless on how to deal with such abhorrent behaviour as they could only look on.

In several incidents, the police appeared not know what to do with the unruly Bosso fans who at one time manhandled a police officer for barring an overzealous supporter from scaling the perimeter fence.

In the Twaliki incident, police officers behind his goal were actually staring at the rowdy crowd where missiles were being thrown but did not move an inch, leaving the United goalkeeper at their mercy.

As a result, he was hit on the head and legs on his way to fluffing his goal-kick from which Tarumbwa profited.

All this was playing out in front of a full house at the venue while millions were watching the match on national television.

This was a bad advertisement for the local game which is battling to retain the few corporate sponsors that are still willing to be associated with such bad publicity.

After the match, more running battles between the two sets of supporters continued outside the stadium with reports that one Makepekepe fan was seriously injured in the clashes.

It must be remembered that this is not the first time that such ugly scenes have occurred in matches involving Highlanders at home.

In August, Highlanders fan Thembelenkosi Hloli was killed in clashes with Dynamos fans following violence which occurred on and off the pitch in a match won by the Zimbabwe champions.

This led to DeMbare chairman Kenny Mubaiwa issuing a warning that his team would not play against Highlanders in Bulawayo again until sterner measures were taken against Bosso fans.

Highlanders fans rioted again after their team lost 1-3 to ZPC Kariba at Hartsfield Stadium forcing police to fire tear gas.

Both sets of players and referees were marooned at the centre circle as fans threw rocks and bottles at the players.

Nothing deterrent has been instituted against Highlanders and indeed other thugs who have developed a knack for responding violently to results that go against their teams.

Sadly, Zifa and PSL appear out of depth to deal with this serious problem.

We ask: How many more people must lose their lives in football-related violence before clubs, Zifa, PSL and security authorities start to take this matter seriously?

This lackadaisical approach will result in local football plunging into anarchy pretty soon as long as the instigators are getting away scot-free.

Last month, at least 19 people lost their lives after Egyptian police clashed with Zamalek fans outside the Cairo Stadium.

If Zimbabwean authorities continue to sweep the violence at Barbourfields under the carpet, there is likelihood one day there will be a major catastrophe.

Local football will always be stained by the July 9, 2000 disaster that left 13 people dead during Zimbabwe's 2002 World Cup qualifier against South Africa at the National Sports Stadium.

We do not want to experience that pain once again and supporters must feel safe to go to watch the beautiful game with their families in all stadia across the country.

Since that traumatic day, local football and security authorities should have stepped up their crowd control methods.

Comments (5)

Bosso should play their games in an empty stadium or in Kwekwe

blazo - 3 March 2015

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