BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA/PAUL VUTETE
PREMIER Soccer League (PSL) chairperson Farai Jere has defended his decision to suspend football action for a week following ugly scenes of violence which caused the abandonment of the tempestuous league match between old foes Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
The topflight league boss, concerned by the continued surge of hooliganism at football matches, announced the suspension of the league after 15 rounds of matches through chief executive Kenny Ndebele on Monday.
But the decision was hugely unpopular among stakeholders in particular, top division coaches who felt the league management should have simply punished the perpetrators of violence while the games continue.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas whose team leapt to the top of the table following a victory over Caps United at the weekend, said his team had regained its form and that the suspension was unfair as most teams were being made to suffer for the actions of one or two culprits.
However, Jere, who is also Caps United president leapt to the defence of his decision insisting it was necessary to solve once and for all the emotive issue of violence at matches which he said was alienating sponsors.
He said he made the decision in his capacity PSL chairperson because he felt there was need for a different approach to resolving the issue.
That Bulawayo giants Highlanders were involved in another violent match at Mandava Stadium two weeks ago and against Dynamos at Barbourfields is a cause for concern for PSL.
“When decisions are made, 90% of great decisions don’t please everyone, even at household level. In most cases, 90% of those decisions will be correct,” Jere said told journalists yesterday.
“A number of people I have spoken to asked me why I made that decision but they supported me. Even the Zifa vice-president (Gift Banda) called me this morning and asked me the same but he said he fully supports my decision because it’s a noble decision.
“At times you guys lack information which I have because of our different levels and people end up speculating because of their thoughts. Yes, we all have a right to do that but my reason for making the decision to suspend the games, is premised on the fact that the issue at Barbourfields happened two weeks after the Mandava situation.”
He said the situation had become a crisis.
“After analysing the video evidence which we have, we actually need all stakeholders to sit down and come up with a lasting solution, especially happening two weeks before the Harare derby (Caps v Dynamos), which is another high-profile game,” Jere said.
“We then decided to have an all stakeholders meeting this weekend in one room and see if all of us are playing their part, from referees, marshals up to the security guys. Is there anywhere where reinforcements are needed or any that need to be held accountable.”
The PSL boss said there was need for a different approach because fining teams has proved to be an exercise in futility.
“Because these decisions that most people want of fining people have already been done for several years and it has not solved anything. So, this is quite a unique decision which is proper and can give a solution to the current problem at hand. This is our own opinion and observation from what is coming up,” he said.
“We cannot just ignore these incidents like they never happened. Our job is to think and make decisions, critics are good and healthy but you can’t expect us to stick to the same methods, we need a different approach to show that we are serious as we try to uproot this problem. If it means we need to increase the number of police forces at Highlanders matches, I will do so.”
He said supporters would also be represented at the meeting through club marshals who have been invited to the meeting.
“We are going to reach out to them through the decision and measures that we are going to take. We also invited club marshals who come from the supporters themselves, therefore representing fans they are going to be part of the meeting giving us their own views on what happened and what they think.”
Jere said league action will resume next week.
“We don’t have time to waste, the PSL suspension has just one week duration. We put it on hold for just this weekend as I feel it was very necessary to put everything on standby just for one week to make sure that we are all aligned,” he said.
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