Enemies of the game

It seems the cancer of hooliganism in local football is growing unabated judging by events in recent weeks. The 2016 Castle Lager Premiership season is only six weeks old but the league has already racked in a total of $12 250 in fines from clubs.

Most of the fines have been handed to the big clubs Dynamos, CAPS United and Highlanders after they failed to control their fans who threw missiles onto the pitches. This season alone, DeMbare fans have been in the news for all the wrong reasons twice already due to their violent behaviour.

The first instance was when DeMbare president Kenni Mubaiwa had his vehicle stoned following a 0-0 draw with Triangle at Rufaro Stadium, last month.

Last weekend, the Glamour Boys fans again caused total chaos at the same venue following their team’s 0-1 defeat to FC Platinum. Police fought running battles with supporters who were demanding Mubaiwa’s immediate resignation.

In the end, police had to fire tear gas to restore sanity and allow the DeMbare team bus and club executives to exit the stadium. Rightly so, the police, the PSL and Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane and Zifa have come out in the open to denounce the conduct of the DeMbare fans.

However, it must be said that just making mere statements will not be enough to end hooliganism in the local game. The authorities need take stern measures against these unruly elements, who are threatening to erode all the gains football has made over the years.

League’s sponsors Delta Beverages and SuperSport must be greatly concerned by the images from last Sunday’s game. If such barbaric actions continue to manifest in the local game, then the league risks losing these and more potential sponsors.

There is no brand in the world that would want to be associated with violence. Even those sponsors who have been waiting on the side-lines are very much likely to be deterred from coming on board by such acts.

What the league, clubs and the police should do in such instances is use all the technology available to identify those responsible for the chaos. Once the perpetrators have been identified, then criminal charges can be pursued in the courts.

Once supporters know that they can be charged in the courts for their violent behaviour at matches they will desist from hooliganism. English football was laden with hooligans in the 70s and the 80s and worldwide the country had a very bad reputation

Commonly known as the English Disease, British football caused chaos whenever they travelled abroad to support their clubs or the national team.

Things came to a boiling point on May 29, 1985 when 39 people mostly Juventus fans died before the start of a European Cup Final against Liverpool at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels.

The death was a result of collapsed wall inside the venue after the Liverpool fans had charged at the Old Lady supporters. After the incident, Uefa announced that British clubs would be banned from European competition ‘‘for an indefinite period’’, and that Liverpool would be kept from  competing for three years (later reduced to one) over and above that period.

The ban was supported by former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the British government swiftly began making sweeping security changes at football matches.  

In September 1987, 26 Liverpool fans were extradited to Belgium and formally charged with involuntary manslaughter.  Fourteen were convicted and given three-year sentences, half of which were suspended for five years, allowing those fans to return to the UK.

By 1990, the hooliganism problem in English football had reduced to the extent that Uefa lifted its ban on English clubs in European competitions.

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