BY FORTUNE MBELE
HIGHLANDERS are set to pay a heavy price for the violent behaviour of their fans in a Castle Challenge Cup tie against FC Platinum at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) yesterday said while they were still investigating the disturbances that led to close to 35 minutes of stoppage, they were going to censure Highlanders for the skirmishes that saw fans throwing missiles, water pipes and damaged the perimeter fence at the Soweto end as the hooligans invaded the pitch.
PSL spokesperson Kudzai Bare yesterday said: “We will proceed to charge Highlanders FC in terms of the Premier Soccer League rules and regulations and as well as the rules of the tournament.”
The league condemned the behaviour of the fans and awaits reports from the law enforcement agents and other security details who were manning the stadium before they proceed to take measures against the offenders.
“Such unruly behaviour cannot be tolerated as it reflects badly on the game of football and the country as a whole. We are carrying out investigations on the matter and have requested reports from the Zimbabwe Republic Police, the two participating clubs, the Bulawayo City Council security department and security officials on what transpired and their recommendations on stemming out violence at football matches played at Barbourfields Stadium in particular,” Bare said.
FC Platinum won the match 2-0 with a brace from Silas Songani and Highlanders’ fans who could not stomach the defeat, went on a rampage throwing missiles at police officers and FC Platinum supporters.
Meanwhile, Highlanders have apologised for the unruly behaviour of their fans.
Through club chairman Kenneth Mhlophe, the Bulawayo giants yesterday issued an apology.
“As Highlanders, we want to take this opportunity to apologise to all stakeholders who were affected by the incidents and give assurance that as a club we are working tirelessly to decontaminate our football of this vice. With the assistance of key actors in the game, we will look into how we can better our security and crowd control skills for future football events,” Mhlophe said.
He said violence had no place in football and paid tribute to stakeholders responsible for the Barbourfields Stadium facelift.
“The club also notes with gratefulness the amount of work that the government of Zimbabwe, Bulawayo City Council and other stakeholders involved in uplifting Barbourfields Stadium generally and particularly the playing field which was in pristine condition for the match. Thus the lifting and throwing of water pipes that were stored between the touchline advertising space and the Soweto stand perimeter fence by violent fans is uncalled for and stand unequivocally condemned by the club,” he said.