FOOTBALL fans will be central as key decisions are expected to be made today at the Premier Soccer League security indaba that is expected to address the scourge of hooliganism in domestic football.
Hooliganism and violence which erupted at Barbourfields and Mandava recently brought back security issues at football events into perspective.
The football leadership, however, have sought to look beyond the rowdy behavior by the uncouth sections of the fans as they look for lasting solutions.
Many factors have been blamed for the recent upsurge in violence. Clubs have failed to rein in their supporters and the indiscipline has come at a huge cost.
The marshals and security personnel manning the stadiums have apparently been caught off guard. The referees have come under serious attack from the wider cross section of football for the way they have spoiled some of the games this season with questionable decisions.
Clubs have also permitted indiscipline by their players on the pitch to go unchecked as players have often violently remonstrated against decisions and as witnessed in the game between Dynamos and Highlanders, their indiscipline easily permeates into their fans in the terraces. Then, the coaches have also created anxiety among the fans with their “boring football”.
There have been many factors. PSL chairman, Farai Jere, said they had to take a unique approach in addressing the challenges as almost all the key stakeholders have come short of expectations.
The PSL boss, in his address to fellow governors in a leaked WhatsApp chat, said the problem needed a fresh approach, which is a shift to the usual procedure where clubs are fined but without addressing the root of the problem.
“The situation here, unlike the other cases, involves a lot of stakeholders. It’s not a matter involving Dynamos and Highlanders alone but a lot of other stakeholders. Please find the observations which lead to this decision as listed below:
“1. Both Dynamos and Highlanders have reports to submit as per the letter written by the CEO and disciplinary measures are instituted. This is what we have been doing.
“2. We are seeing drunk policemen for such a high profile match with a full house for the first time this season. Security is expected to be on high alert. Dealing with Dynamos and Highlanders alone does not address the issue of police behaviour.
“3. This is going to give us an opportunity to discuss the issue of referees with their leadership. Matches involving Dynamos/Highlanders and CAPS United were known to be handled by referees on the FIFA panel who are experienced to handle such high tempo matches.
“4. The move will demonstrate our seriousness in trying to curb violence from our matches.
“Honourable Governors, you will note that this incident where we have overwhelming evidence on police, club marshals and referees will assist us address our long standing complaints on stakeholders 2 and 3.
“These guys for a long time were spared from the rot of our football due to lack of evidence. We now have video evidence.
“Dedicating this weekend to meeting all the stakeholders will help us move forward as one unit. This is a pure crisis where all stakeholders are at fault. I hope this clarifies the position,” said Jere.
Dynamos and Highlanders have since been asked to submit reports over the incidents that led to the abandonment of their match last Sunday. The two giants are set to face stern penalties for the mayhem.
Going forward, Jere said the fans will feel the impact of the measures to be put in place as a deterrent to violent behaviour.
“We are going to reach out to the fans through the decisions that we are going to make. They are going to feel them, if they really love their clubs,” he told journalists.
“So we have invited marshals. These marshals come from the supporters themselves and they are going to give us their own views on what happened and what they think.
“It’s going to be an all-encompassing meeting, whereby all the ideas are going to be put together and then we come up with a position in which we are going to communicate to all the stakeholders,” said Jere.
Stakeholders have condemned the recurring incidents of violence at football matches. It has been suggested that stern measures which includes arrests and banning of hooligans should be adopted, apart from fining the clubs.
Dynamos and Warriors cheerleader Chris “Romario” Musekiwa said questionable officiating was letting down the game.
“Hooliganism has no room in our beautiful game of football, hence hooligans and perpetrators of violence must be brought to book.
“Those who lead in crowd trouble must be heavily dealt with and the laws of the land must also punish them as well. Such kind of behaviour may compromise football sponsorship and even close doors for those that intend to join in. My appeal to the PSL Leadership is to find a way to deal with this once and for all,” said Musekiwa.
“We have also noted with a great concern some incompetent and inexperienced match officials who are being tasked to handle high profile matches pitting the nation’s biggest clubs, with a case in point being the ones who handled the Battle of Supremacy part one between the Harare giants Dynamos, and the Bulawayo giants Highlanders, who we all feel should be suspended and be sent back to the school of refereeing once more.
“With such kind of officiating we wish that the likes of Felix Tangawarima, Wilfred Mukuna, Wonder Kalota (late), Tichaona Chapfika (late) and Ngonidzashe Boyd were still up and about to officiate.”
Another contributor by the name Masaisai said the football coaches have also unwittingly contributed to the frustrations in the terraces because of their “boring football”.
“The quality of our football has deteriorated so much that fans get irritated easily. Coaches should shoulder some blame too for trying to win at all costs by promoting boring football.
“The match between Highlanders and Dynamos was so boring people got irritated too early in the game and because coaches aren’t interested in giving us good entertaining football, even the players don’t enjoy their own game and resort to robust and crude tackling of one another as witnessed throughout the match at Barbourfields. Everything in our football is bad. PSL must take stock to see if they are doing their sponsors a favour,” said Masaisai.