Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS have challenged the Premier Soccer League’s statute of only punishing the home team every time there is crowd trouble arguing that all stakeholders involved in the game must bear the burden of bringing and maintaining sanity during football matches.
The Bulawayo giants believe punishing the home side alone will not help solve the problem of crowd disturbances as long as other partners are not involved since they all benefit from the presence of supporters at the stadium.
Addressing the media during the club’s weekly press conference yesterday, Highlanders’ chief executive officer Nhlanhla Bahlangene Dube said clubs are only a vehicle for bringing the fans to the stadium which then benefits other stakeholders.
“I think all stakeholders have a role to play. We all want fans to come to our games; we want them to come in their numbers because ultimately they affect our bottom line. So if you look at all stakeholders that are involved whether it’s Zifa, PSL or SRC, they earn something from the fan, therefore it is important as stakeholders to come together,” said Dube.
He said the club acknowledges that there were missiles thrown onto the pitch, that there was pitch invasion during their blockbuster encounter against Dynamos on Sunday in which more than 20 000 spectators came into the stadium, but what was important was the issue of stakeholder participation after the disturbances as the fans protested a Dynamos equaliser.
“It’s not to justify that it must happen or it must be forgiven, certainly not, but I think we need to look at it and say if you then blanket the whole of Highlanders because there are 20, 30, 40 people out of thousands that misbehaved, that can’t be encouraging good behaviour and growth in terms of attitude. It’s also important to note that while the other stakeholders earn what they will earn from the regulatory percentages that they get from the paying fans, its only Highlanders that gets fined and they lose revenue, but the fan belongs to all of us. Highlanders is only a vehicle for bringing the fan to the stadium,” Dube said.
He also questioned how missiles find their way into the stadium when the club hires security personnel to prevent those missiles getting into the stadium.
“We understand that the responsibility of controlling the fans rests with the home side, but using what equipment, what tool? How does Highlanders control someone that is on the terraces? We don’t have arresting powers? If you look at the missiles that were landing on the pitch on Sunday, five litre containers and little illicit alcohol containers. How do they come into the stadium when we have got policing mechanism, explain that to me? They are let in and Highlanders is supposed to say don’t throw them, so all stakeholders need to come together. Persecuting, punishing or charging Highlanders is not going to solve it,” said Dube.
Bosso are set to appear before a PSL disciplinary committee next Tuesday to answer charges of violating Order 31 of the league’s rules and regulations.