Big 3 join forces to fight stadia violence

HARARE - Stung by the constant heavy fines they are forking out due to fan violence, the country’s big three clubs — Dynamos, Highlanders and CAPS United — have joined forces to combat the scourge.

Last season was particularly disappointing as a number of high profile Castle Lager Premiership  matches were abandoned due to crowd trouble.

The blockbuster clash between Dynamos and Highlanders was abandoned in the first half at Barbourfields Stadium in May after Christian Ntouba scored a contentious equaliser for the visitors.

In the end, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) Disciplinary Committee awarded the match to DeMbare on a 3-0 scoreline while Bosso were fined $4 000.

The top-of-the-table clash between DeMbare and Ngezi Platinum Stars at Baobab Stadium also degenerated into chaos last November due to hooliganism.

Both clubs were fined $2 500 each by the PSL Disciplinary Committee for failing to control their fans.

These were the two major incidents but throughout the season, there were many other disturbances that occurred.

Even the league’s title sponsors — Delta Beverages — were worried by the high number of cases of violence reported during the course of the season.

“Sporadic violence at matches involving fans of big teams in the league matches and now even smaller teams are a concern for us as a sponsor,” Delta Beverages marketing manager Patricia Murambinda said at the PSL’s 25th anniversary celebrations last year.

Bosso chief executive officer Nhlanhla Bahlangene Dube told the Daily News about plans by the big three to come together and find a lasting solution to the problem.

“It’s a huge question. For us it’s a question that needs careful attention,” Dube said regarding the issue of fan violence at PSL matches.

“The clubs suffer a lot from stadium unrest. If you look at the breakdown of fines and the amounts that are associated with attending disciplinary hearings; they are astronomical.

“The amount of fines we paid last season alone are enough to run our Division One side for the entire season.

“We are certainly concerned by this problem and if you ask my counterparts from CAPS United and Dynamos; we are currently having conversations during this pre-season to see how we can solve this problem.

“I’m sure very soon, we will be meeting since we are the people’s clubs to find a lasting solution.”

The Highlanders boss, however, admitted it will not be enough for the clubs alone to find a cure but it will require all the stakeholders to get together.

“To adequately deal with this issue of crowd trouble we need a multi-stakeholder involvement from the club, to the fans, the football authorities, the councils and the police,” Dube said.

“We need continuous education of our fans so that they realise that throwing missiles or invading the pitch will not change the result of a match.

“It’s the club that will suffer due to the fines that will be imposed by the league. The fans say they love the club but do not realise they end up costing the very same club a lot of money in fines.”

Dube added: “The police also have a huge responsibility since they are the ones who have the arresting powers.

“Further, we also need to get a bit of latitude in terms of how much we pay the police to provide security at the stadium.

“Legislatively, there is also need to look at our laws considering the fact that those who are arrested for hooliganism end up paying minimal fines when they are found guilty by the courts.”

Dynamos secretary-general Webster Marechera said the Glamour Boys are now appealing to their loyal fans to become stewards at their home matches to help spot troublemakers.

“We need stewards that help us to find and identify the trouble makers.

“This is what happens in Europe; you see the stewards facing the crowd and not the pitch in order to pick out troublemakers,” Marechera said.

“We need loyal and mature people who have the club at heart and are willing to volunteer to be part of our stewards.

“The burden is that as clubs we don’t have money to pay so that is why we are looking to find stewards among our own supporters who will volunteer to work for us.

“We have chapters all over the country and we are going to be meeting with the chairpersons on a regular basis in order to make sure that we come up with lasting solutions to this problem of violence at matches.”