Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HIGHLANDERS have been slapped with a $4 000 fine after being found guilty of causing the abandonment of a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against archrivals Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium on May 14.
The PSL disciplinary tribunal also awarded Dynamos the match on a 3-0 score line and ordered Bosso to pay the $4 000 as well as costs of the hearing by July 31, 2017.
Highlanders were found guilty of offences which include pitch invasion, missile throwing and violent conduct by their fans during the epic encounter.
“The Premier Soccer League Disciplinary Committee found Highlanders guilty of causing the abandonment of the match. The match has been awarded to Dynamos FC on a 3-0 score line.
“Further, Highlanders FC were fined a sum of four thousand dollars ($4 000), which fine together with the cost of the hearing shall be paid by the 31st of July 2017,” reads a PSL statement releasing the judgment that was reserved about a fortnight ago.
The match was only played for 42 minutes before referee Munyaradzi Majoni decided to call a halt to proceedings after missiles poured down onto the pitch from the Empankweni stand where the Bosso fans were housed following a Dynamos equaliser by Cameroonian striker Christian Epoupa from what appeared to be an offside position.
Bosso fans threw missiles at second assistant referee Thomas Kusosa for not flagging the Cameroonian, forcing him to flee the touchline to the centre of the pitch.
Highlanders’ players and officials tried to calm down the fans, but all attempts at resumption were met with more missiles at Kusosa, whom they felt had deliberately made controversial calls against the Bulawayo giants in previous games.
After about an hour of stoppage and with the Bosso fans adamant that Kusosa could not return to the touchline, referee Majoni and match commissioner Edson Nkau resolved to call off the match.
Highlanders’ chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube said they would appeal the judgment.
“We have seen the judgment and we’re certainly going to appeal,” said Dube.
The three free points Dynamos were awarded by the tribunal catapulted them up the league table from eighth position to sixth and they are now tied on 20 points with Highlanders and FC Platinum.
The judgment comes a week after Highlanders were summoned to appear before the same PSL disciplinary tribunal following their abandoned match against FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane on May 28.
That match was abandoned in the 94th minute after police tear-gassed Bosso supporters following incidents of missile throwing by a section of the fans.
The fans were protesting a last minute penalty awarded to FC Platinum in the dying seconds of the match.
Bosso were leading 1-0 and a stampede ensued when police fired tear gas at fans after FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari had levelled scores from the penalty spot.
There was pandemonium as some fans ran onto the pitch while players and officials were still on the pitch to escape from the tear smoke.
Match officials, players and technical staff of both teams had to jostle with fans to escape the choking tear gas.
The PSL disciplinary committee will again decide what happens now, but judging by their latest ruling, the outcome is almost certain to involve another heavy fine for Bosso. They are also expected to forfeit the match to FC Platinum on another 3-0 score line, denting Bosso’s goal difference, reduced to three by the Dynamos judgment. If FC Platinum are awarded the match as expected, Highlanders’ goal difference will be slashed to zero.