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Cops who fled hooligans at Barbourfields not cowards, says police spokesperson

by Staff reporter
07 Oct 2023 at 14:30hrs | Views
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Abednigo Ncube says anti-riot police and dog handlers who took to their heels with football hooligans in hot pursuit at Barbourfields stadium recently was an act of "strategic withdrawal" as opposed to cowardice.

A throng of fans stormed the football pitch last month to confront match officials and police officers during the tempestuous premiership clash between arch-rivals Dynamos and Highlanders.

A decision by the match officials to ignore what appeared like a rough tackle on a Highlanders player inside the 18-yard box torched riotous scenes from the fans leading to the abandonment of the match moments before the half time break with Dynamos leading 2-0.

The pitch invasion forced match officials and some players to dash for safety in the dressing room.

Outnumbered police officers also took to their heels with missile throwing fans in pursuit in the middle of the park.

Revisiting the humiliating scenes at a football indaba hosted by a local weekly in Bulawayo Friday, Ncube said police will take no further attacks from football hooligans.

"Whoever is approaching and attempting to fight police officers is endangering their own life," Ncube said at a meeting called to brainstorm on causes and remedies to recurrent football violence.

"Our police officers on the day in question acted very professionally as they were wrestling their canine dogs from injuring and possibly killing those fighting police.

"To all members of the public, you must know that was the last time to attempt to attack the police officers.

"The withdrawal by the police was a strategy to safeguard lives but public must not mistake that as an act of fear as they will not afford the same treatment next time."

Speaking at the same meeting, ZIFA Normalization Committee member, Sikhumbuzo Ndebele said the football mother body was in the process of creating a focus group which would be specific to Highlanders and Dynamos.

The two clubs command the largest following in the country with some of their duels often igniting emotive scenes of crowd trouble.

The group will include the Premier Soccer League, Sports and Recreation Commission, police and club executives.

"The focus group is expected to show a response programme as the regulators and will effect training amongst the clubs," said the football administrator.

"We will be calling the clubs one by one to train them on how to create a safe and predictable environment in the game of soccer.

"The group is almost ready to go we are just short of a ministerial approval because there is a legislator that we asked to participate in the programme such that by conducting such gathering, we might end up cultivating a law derived from the people of the game themselves and not the imposed law."

The workshop was attended by members of the ZRP, football team representatives, Mzilikazi and Barbourfields residents' representatives and top football fans from various teams.

Source - zimlive