ZIFA has threatened to ban hooligans from football matches across the country following incidents of violence and missile-throwing in the last two weeks, involving the country’s three biggest football clubs — Dynamos, Highlanders and Caps United.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
First it was the Bob91 Super Cup play-off at Barbourfields Stadium between Caps United and Highlanders that left a Green Machine supporter battling for his life at Mater Dei Hospital.
Before Sunday’s final between Caps United and Dynamos, supporters from both sides marched against hooliganism in football, some against Highlanders, but 15 minutes into the final, missiles were already flying onto the pitch at Rufaro.
Water bottles, aimed at referee Nomore Musundire, were thrown into the field, after Dynamos had scored and after Stephen Alimenda was shown the red card for a second bookable offence.
Besides the pelting of the match official, there was disorder at the gates with some members of the media only managing to enter Rufaro Stadium at half-time.
In a statement, Zifa spokesman Xolisani Gwesela said violence at football matches was unacceptable.
“Last week the nation came to a standstill as hooligans displayed violence leaving a fan in a critical condition requiring medical attention and today we are talking about missiles thrown yesterday at the Bob91 final pitting Caps United and Dynamos.
“Our stance as the football mother body has not changed and we do not condone violent tendencies being displayed by hooligans whose intention is to maim the image of football events organisers. We deplore this despicable and disgraceful behaviour which has a tendency to scare away sponsors. We are flabbergasted and angered at the unprecedented level of archaic violent behaviour. We are aware that these heinous and ghastly criminals thrive in disorder and their intention is to ensure that football becomes ungovernable.
“This level of violence is highly unacceptable and it gives the beautiful game a poor reputation. Violence has no place in football and we urge these unrepentant criminals to desist from abusing football to vent their frustrations.
“We are working closely with law enforcement agents to bring these criminals to book. Our position as Zifa is explicitly clear: Anyone found to have transgressed football statutes by being violent will be banned from attending all football matches and events in addition to prosecution by the courts,” Gwesela said.
“At this juncture we urge all Premier Soccer League clubs to re-engage with their supporters since Zifa is going to make sure that they face the wrath of failing to control their followers.
“In that vein, we are going to join some stakeholders who have responded to the growing concern of chaos at football matches in conscientising the public about making stadia safe places where families can feel secure to watch sport,” he added.
Charles Mabika, spokesman for the organisers and commentator of the same match, issued an apology on Sunday night.
“It’s only proper for us to apologise for what happened, but it was caused by some of the malfunctioning gates. We were made to believe that 26 gates were functioning only to find out that only 19 were working properly, and that slowed traffic. That was the reason why we had to delay the start of the match by almost 30 minutes,” said Mabika.