Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) has indefinitely suspended its programme as it seeks a lasting solution to acts of hooliganism that are tainting the image of local football.
The biggest match in the local football calendar pitting Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday was marred by rowdiness, with fans invading the pitch at different intervals forcing the match to be abandoned.
The match, played before the biggest paying crowd this season, was called off in the second minute of the 13 minutes optional time added by referee Jimmy Makwanda after Dynamos hooligans stormed the pitch, tore the nets and attempted to uproot the goalposts, with police haplessly watching.
The Dynamos fans were protesting Highlanders’ goal scored by Washington Navaya, who nodded in a cross from close range, sparking wild celebrations from Bosso fans, who stormed the pitch.
Dynamos players and fans felt the referee should have stopped play as their defender Shadreck Nyahwa lay injured on the ground in the build-up to the goal.
With the conditions unconducive for the match to continue, the game was called off.
The incident at Barbourfields Stadium came less than a month after the FC Platinum and Highlanders tie was abandoned at Mandava Stadium when Highlanders supporters stormed the pitch protesting a penalty awarded to the home team with the score line 1-1.
Dynamos supporters also threw missiles on the pitch during the Independence Cup final which they lost 1-0 to Highlanders in a repeat of a disgraceful feat they did against Bulawayo Chiefs at Barbourfields Stadium earlier.
In order to deal with acts of hooliganism which are unsettling sponsors, the PSL decided to indefinitely suspend all matches.
“The Premier Soccer League has suspended all Castle Lager PSL matches with immediate effect until further notice following incidents of violence and hooliganism that continue to take place in our football. The PSL strongly condemns such acts as they can only serve to tarnish the beautiful game of football.
“We are currently engaging all key stakeholders to find lasting solutions to these challenges. We have scheduled a meeting with security officials, including the Zimbabwe Republic Police, club security officers and marshals as well as stadium owners on Friday 20 May 2022,” said the PSL.
The PSL apologised to football loving fans, their sponsors and strategic stakeholders for violence at stadia, which they hope to address before resumption of matches.
Zifa also condemned hooliganism that led to abandonment of the epic Premiership clash.
Zifa said lasting solutions are needed to weed out hooligans.
“The Zimbabwe Football Association condemns acts of hooliganism that disrupted the flow of and led to the abandonment of the Premier Soccer League match between Highlanders and Dynamos on 15 May 2022. We urge all football stakeholders to always perform their roles to the best of their abilities to ensure that football matches are completely rid of such disruptions.
“The association will engage all stakeholders and ensure deterrent punitive measures for all individuals and groups found to be causing the actions that scar the reputation of Zimbabwean football. It is also imperative to identify the roots of hooliganism so that we find a lasting solution. The abandonment of matches is not the best picture of our football that we want the world to see,” Zifa said in a statement.
Meanwhile, both Highlanders and Dynamos will appear before the PSL disciplinary committee to answer charges emanating from abandonment of the game.
The PSL instructed both teams and the police to submit their reports which will be used to determine the case. – @ZililoR