YADAH are reluctant to travel to Bulawayo for their scheduled Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) match against Highlanders at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday over security concerns and have requested for a change of venue.
This comes after Highlanders supporters threw missiles and invaded the pitch on Sunday protesting against the referee’s decisions in their team’s match against Dynamos, forcing abandonment of the match after 37 minutes with the latter leading 2-0.
Now Yadah feel their players, officials and supporters will not be safe in that environment and are demanding the match to be moved to Bata Stadium in Gweru.
The club wrote to the Premier Soccer League yesterday requesting for a change of venue.
In a letter authored by their lawyers, Yadah said referees will be under pressure from the Highlanders supporters and may thus struggle to make fair decisions.
They also argue that the players will be intimidated and may not perform to optimum levels.
Police said they have since arrested 12 suspects linked to the Barbourfields violence.
National police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the arrests, with two of the suspects being charged for contravening the Firearms Act, four for criminal nuisance and six for public violence.
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“The Zimbabwe Republic Police confirms that 12 suspects have been arrested in connection with the public violence which occurred at Babourfields Stadium on September 10, 2023 ... The Zimbabwe Republic Police assures the public that full scale investigations are in progress to account for all suspects who were involved in the violence,” Nyathi said.
Despite the arrests, Yadah still want the match to be moved.
“In light of these circumstances, our client, Yadah FC, is of the firm view that the safety and well-being of its fans, players, and officials as well as other stakeholders which is of paramount importance have since been compromised in the wake of its impending fixture against Highlanders,” the club’s legal team wrote to PSL.
“Consequent to these unfortunate events, our client is of the firm belief that it will be extremely challenging for it to receive fair treatment from the match officials.
“The psychological impact of the violence, coupled with the lack of accountability for those responsible, casts a shadow of doubt on the objectivity and impartiality of the officiating team that will be in charge of the match in circumstances where the Highlanders fans will be in attendance.
“This situation greatly undermines the principles of fair play and jeopardises the integrity of the game.”
They added: “Our client anticipates that its players will be inhibited from performing to their full potential due to the fear of incensing Highlanders FC supporters. This fear could lead to a detrimental effect on their performance, resulting in an unfair competition, where the principle of fair play cannot be achieved.
“All the circumstances considered, particularly the volatile and unsafe environment as well as the potential risks involved, we are instructed to request for a change of venue and subsequently propose an alternative solution for the upcoming match against Highlanders FC, which is likely to be played before the prevailing situation stabilises.
“We are instructed to formally request, as we hereby do, for a change of venue for the aforementioned match from Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo to Bata Stadium in Gweru or any other neutral venue which is located outside the City of Bulawayo.”
Yadah said they had also notified the Sports and Recreation Commission about the issue.