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Time to bring refeering sanity at Barbourfields

15 May 2017 at 06:50hrs | Views
THE Castle Lager Premiership match between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields yesterday attracted one of the biggest crowds to watch a domestic top-flight league contest for years.

The start of the big game was delayed by 15 minutes by authorities who wanted to ensure that thousands of supporters, who were still trapped in long and winding queues outside the stadium, would get a chance to get into the ground and watch the encounter.

It was a wise move given there was always a danger of a stampede outside the stadium in the event that the thousands of fans tried to push their way into the ground to catch a glimpse of the latest battle between the country's two biggest football clubs.

A thrilling battle between the two giants in the Independence Cup final, which Dynamos won after a penalty shootout at the National Sports Stadium last month, and the presence of maverick forward Rodreck Mutuma in Bosso colours, had all spiced the occasion.

But, sadly, what was slowly turning into a quality titanic contest - with Bosso skipper of the day Rahman Kutsanzira scoring a beauty that fitted the grand occasion - ended prematurely just before the break - when hooligans took over and spoiled what was certain to be one of the best battles between the two giants in a league match for a long time.

Some of the Bosso fans, unhappy with the Dynamos equaliser which they felt should not have stood because scorer Ntoupa Epoupa was in an offside position when he turned the ball home, turned violent with a mob targeting the assistant referee whom they blamed for not making the call.

And, despite the best efforts of the Bosso leadership, and the players, who tried as much as possible to cool down tempers and ensure that the game would continue, the hooligans refused to entertain those calls for sanity to prevail and, laughably, even called for the replacement of the assistant referee they blamed for not making the offside call.

In the ensuing chaos, the assistant referee was struck by a flying object, with all this being captured live on SuperSport and broadcast to large parts of Africa, after he tried to take back his position for the game to continue. Once again, for the umpteenth time, we have to devote acres of space to violence at Barbourfields, triggered by a section of Bosso hooligans, and that is a shame.

This cancer has been devouring the soul of the game in the City of Kings, whenever Bosso are playing a big game, and it was only a few months ago - last year - when the same hooligans rioted during a league game against Chicken Inn in what was another shameful advertisement for our national game which left a number of fans injured.

While we believe that match officials should try, as best as they can, to ensure the spirit of Fair Play always prevails and the better team wins matches, we find it deplorable that, as and when the referees make mistakes at Barbourfields, it is usually a trigger for madness from Bosso hooligans.

We have seen worse mistakes from match officials in international football, but the fans have never taken matters into their hands, using an error by a match official as the signal for them to trigger violence and force the abandonment of matches.

And there are a number of teams who have come from Barbourfields complaining they got a raw deal, from match officials in matches against Bosso, but, to their credit, their fans didn't force the abandonment of those matches and some of them have taken the right route to use the official channels to air their complaints.

But, when it comes to some of the Bosso hooligans, it's a different ballgame and it's something that has been happening for a long time.

In 2001, these hooligans forced the abandonment of their club's Champions League tie against Young Africans of Tanzania by throwing bottles and other objects onto the pitch and a number of the visiting players and security personnel were injured.

And, when CAPS United arrived at Barbourfields in 2004 for a top-of-the-table showdown, the same hooligans again forced the abandonment of that match when Makepekepe were awarded a last-gasp penalty in a 3-3 draw. It's sad that the authorities have failed to find a way to stop this madness and, with yesterday's big match on SuperSport, one can only image the damage that such shameless acts can do to the branding of the domestic Premiership.

Clearly, it's such acts that turn away sponsors because no one would like to be associated with such madness and, for a league crying out for partners and a national game that badly needs such corporate support, the events - like the ones we witnessed at Barbourfields yesterday - can only turn those potential suitors away.

It's about time that Bosso find a way to deal with this cancer, because it is destroying the image of our national game, and it was sad yesterday that these hooligans could not even be controlled by their leaders, players and their Dutch coach, who went onto the field calling for calm.

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Source - the herald
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