HomeOpinion & AnalysisPSL must end bout of football violence

PSL must end bout of football violence

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THE conduct, of football fans at the stadiums in Zimbabwe is a major cause for concern. More worrying is that the perpetrators of violence at football matches particularly Highlanders and Dynamos continue to break the law with impunity.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has in the past tried to deter the culprits by imposing hefty fines and has also forced the concerned teams to play in empty stadiums but it has been an exercise in futility. Old habits die hard. Now and again it is either Highlanders or Dynamos fans acts of violence and vandalism — conduct has continued to alienate the game from the corporate world.

Violence, whether verbal or physical, should never be allowed in a civilised society like ours. It is a bad advertisement for the local game.  On Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium, Highlanders and Dynamos were involved in skirmishes leading to the abandonment of their league match. The match was marred by crowd trouble on in the second half.

It started when Highlanders fans threatened to invade the pitch after Bill Antonio’s challenge reportedly left Andrew Tandi with a broken leg.

The incident also saw players and officials from both sides clashing. When Highlanders took the lead in the dying moments their fans invaded the pitch to celebrate, while Dynamos players surrounded the referee, protesting his decision to allow the goal.

And as the Dynamos players confronted the referee, their supporters on the Mpilo end and invaded the pitch, uprooting goalposts and tearing the nets.

That the incident happened two weeks after another violent incident at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane during a league match between Highlanders and FC Platinum has galvanised the Premier Soccer League hierarchy into action.

Stung by the increase in violence at matches involving mostly Highlanders, PSL chairperson Farai Jere on Monday suspended league action and called for an all stakeholders meeting today to find a lasting solution to the challenges confronting domestic football.

It is perhaps important for the games stakeholders to employ a different approach to the crisis instead of just slapping the perpetrators of the violence with a fine of US$3 500 because it has proved to be not deterrent enough to stop the rot.

There is need for the parties concerned to be radical and ruthless if they are to nip this bout of football violence in the bud. In the past PSL has banned fans at Highlanders and Dynamos at home matches as a deterrent measure.

That too has, not worked. Apparently the PSL has been accused of being lenient and unable to exercise authority. It remains a mystery how a disciplinary committee judgment which ruled in 2016 that Highlanders would play their home league match against Bulawayo City in an empty stadium following crowd trouble during their match against Chicken Inn at Barbourfields was overturned after the Bulawayo giants.

It is not clear on what grounds their appeal succeeded. They got away with it and what can stop them from continuing with the acts of vandalism? After the PSL’s ruling the late Highlanders chief executive Ndumiso Gumede immediately stated that they would appeal.

And as expected, the PSL released a statement at the time stating that the game would go ahead as normal after Bosso had appealed the ruling.

“The Castle Lager Premier Soccer League would like to advise that it has received an appeal from Highlanders Football Club in respect of the PSL disciplinary committee’s judgment which ordered that the club must play their next home match in an empty Stadium.

“We would like to advise all the football stakeholders that the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match between Highlanders FC and Bulawayo City FC scheduled for Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday October 16 2016 will now be played before paying spectators. The gate charges remain unchanged at $3 for the rest of ground, $5 for the grandstands and $10 for the VIP. The gates will be opened at 12 noon. We appeal to the football fans to desist from violence and invading the pitch before, during and after the matches.”

Adopting a more primitive approach has failed to bear fruit in the past in trying to end the violence at football matches, the PSL leadership should order Highlanders or any would-be offenders to play their home matches in empty stadium for the whole season.

This sanctions should only be lifted after the supporters concerned guarantee commitment to peace at football matches.

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