HIGHLANDERS chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede has warned Bosso fans to desist from violence saying such behaviour could lead to serious consequences for the club. SAKHELENI NXUMALO SPORTS CORRESPONDENT
Gumede was commenting on the crowd trouble that rocked Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday during the Bob 91 Super Cup semi-final clash against Caps United that saw the former progress to the final where they will meet Harare rivals Dynamos this weekend.
“As a club, we do not condone violence of any nature whether provoked or not and we have in the past released statements that it’s not OK for fans to engage in rowdy behaviour as it brings a lot of problems to the club,” Gumede said.
“If a supporter thinks or suspects that there will be violence at a game they would shy away and that would result in a loss of revenue for the club. Violence also chases away sponsors as people with money want to come where there is peace, so crowd trouble has serious ramifications for the club,” he said.
On measures that have to be taken to deal with hooliganism, Gumede believed incidents of violence might be reduced if players were to be punished if found to have been the instigators.
“I was not present at Barbourfields as I had travelled with the team that played in Beitbridge, but I am told that the instigator was a player by the name of (Rodreck) Mutuma who went and mocked fans at the Soweto end and fans reacted angrily to his provocation.
“Referees and match commissioners should point out such actions in their reports and culprits should be punished like what happens in Europe,” Gumede said.
Former Dynamos forward Mutuma constantly needled Highlanders fans during Sunday’s match and his celebratory run towards the Soweto stand proved to be the last straw for the home team’s fans and they responded by raining missiles onto the pitch.
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Gumede, however, warned Bosso fans to exercise restraint in the face of provocation as reacting violently could lead to the team being ordered either to play in an empty stadium or play their games in the morning.
Delaying antics as Caps United sought to wind down the clock were responsible for sporadic incidents of missile throwing while the 12-minute stoppage in the second half came about after the visitors strongly objected to Highlanders’ goal that was scored by Obadiah Tarumbwa in the 71st minute and contemplated a walk-out.
Caps fans were guilty of missile throwing as they pelted Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda with all sorts of objects when play was about to resume after the visiting team’s players had resolved to continue with the game.
Caps United recently got a one-year sponsorship deal from Zing, a South African firm and such unruly behaviour chould be a cause for concern to the team’s leadership.
Makepekepe coach Mark Harrison told journalists in his post-match interview he would have supported his charges had they decided not to continue with Sunday’s game after violence erupted.
“Players were intimidated and I asked them if they wanted to continue and told them I would back whatever decision they took.
“In the end they decided they wanted to continue and fair play to them, they did the job. We cannot endanger people’s lives and at the end of the day it is the players who were out there getting missiles thrown at them and the safety of players is paramount,” Harrison said.
Unconfirmed reports say one Caps United fan was badly injured in Sunday skirmishes, but efforts to get police confirmation of any arrests were fruitless yesterday.
Zifa condemned the violence yesterday.
In a statement, communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said those found to be on the wrong side of the law will be punished.
“We are saddened by the growing unwelcome habit at match venues across the country which is tainting the image of Zimbabwean football at the same time risking the lives of peace loving football supporters.
“It is disturbing that the 12th player is still grappling with the basic tenets of fair play.
“We are going to look into the incident and all found to have crossed the line will be duly punished since this reflects negatively on our game and it endangers the lives of many innocent fans.
“It is high time these unruly elements got their deserved punishment since they have been taking football for granted for a long time with only their clubs feeling the pinch of paying fines.
“Nonetheless, we also encourage clubs to engage their supporters and enlighten them on the dangers and costs of hooliganism,” Gwesela added.