BY MICHAEL KARIATI
THE Castle Lager Premier Soccer League has returned from a two-week mid-season break with hopes high that there won’t be violent disturbances like the ones that characterised the first half of the season.
The programme was brought to a halt for a week as the PSL sought solutions to avoid disturbances like the one that rocked Barbourfields Stadium on May 15 in a game between Highlanders and Dynamos.
It was one of the ugliest scenes that have taken hold of Zimbabwean football and that came hard on the heels of another such scene at Mandava Stadium on April 22, but this time involving hosts FC Platinum and Highlanders.
Bosso were found guilty of causing what transpired at Mandava and were fined $6 000 on top of losing the match 3-0.
With the current economic situation, Bosso will feel the pain of losing both the $6 000 as well as the three points and three goals which will have a strong bearing on their standing in the final Castle Lager PSL table.
On top of that, Highlanders were also hit with another $5 000 fine for their fans’ involvement in the violence that took place in their match against Dynamos.
One has to feel sorry for Bosso because violence is not in their culture but they are being made to suffer for the behaviour of the same violent perpetrators who have been causing mayhem at their stadium over and over again.
According to information at hand, Highlanders has received a total of US$79 152 in fines between 2015 and 2022 and in no football season between that period has the team gone without being brought before a PSL disciplinary hearing for either violence or invasion of the pitch.
With the way they are losing money and points, it cannot be denied that Highlanders – as a club – have done or have tried everything possible to try to control the hooliganism situation but have failed.
It was also expected that Dynamos — who were also fined $7 500 —- would also lose three points and three goals for their fans’ behaviour in the May 15 mayhem at Barbourfields.
Surely, Zimbabwean football cannot continue to have the outcome of its matches determined in the boardroom due to crowd trouble because this destroys the essence of competition as some end up winning the title through points awarded on the table.
Zimbabwe should also try to avoid forcing discussions that so and so was relegated to Division One because so and so benefitted from the points awarded on the table after their game was abandoned also due to crowd upheavals.
The rules are clear that clubs are responsible for the behaviour of their fans but some of these rules are cruel like the contracts that bind players to their clubs to slavery with no means of freedom.
How can Highlanders, Dynamos or Ngezi Platinum Stars, be expected to control the behaviour of the thousands of fans, most of whom they do not even know and also come to matches intoxicated.
It is not clear how the 18-team PSL intends to tackle this hooligan problem following the meeting the assembly held in the wake of the Barbourfields debacle but surely, the starting point should be the entry point.
How are these drunk football followers managing to gain entry into the stadium and for that matter going on to cause havoc when there are police officers at every entry point and in the stadium itself?
How surely, can football fans storm into the field of play, try to uproot the goalposts, and then afterwards, there are no arrests made despite clear video evidence of a crime.
As the soccer season rolls towards the climax, the police should be told loud and clear that they are not being paid to watch matches or to support their favourite teams but to do the job they are being given allowances for.
We, as football followers, also need to ask ourselves what are we doing to help the security details do their job effectively and efficiently as these elements of violent behaviour live amongst us?
This is the bigger responsibility for genuine football fans to protect the game from these hooligans by helping the police or security personnel identify and eject people whom they deem to be of a violent nature.
The battle to force the hooligans to stay at home will be won if all genuine football lovers also join in the fight against this scourge – together with the PSL, the marshalls, and the police, football will be the ultimate winner.
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