B/F violence: Cops failed us, Gumede
HIGHLANDERS chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede yesterday took a swipe at the police, accusing them of failing his club and fans that watched the violencemarred encounter against Chicken Inn at Barbourfields Stadium last Sunday.
Violence broke out after referee Nkosikhona Moyo blew his whistle to end the match just as Chicken Inn were scoring a goal that would have given them maximum points.
“What are we paying the police for? They must forfeit the money we paid them so that we pay the disciplinary fees to the Premier Soccer League. The police failed us,” said Gumede.
“They are trained to deal with crowd trouble, but when they come to Barbourfields they will be busy watching football leaning on the fence. At the Olympics, the police watch the crowd, but here it’s the other way round.
“Bottles and stones are brought into the stadium and it all shows that the police are not doing their job. They were overwhelmed and the next game they will double the numbers and demand more payment.
“We as Highlanders do not condone hooligans because we believe they do not have a place in football. They must instead rot in jail and they must not be seen anywhere near a football stadium or football because they are dangerous elements. The football stadium is not a war zone. Instead, we must take our families and friends to enjoy the beautiful game, but the police must do their job. They must take pictures and the media must also take pictures, video film the culprits and splash them in newspapers and social media.”
Gumede also feels education is important to curb crowd trouble.
“Education is very important and I am not saying one has to pass O-or A-Levels to be a soccer fan. People need to be educated in a broader sense. It might take a longer route, but I feel it’s very effective. Fans must know that being in the stadium does not give them the jurisdiction to go onto the field of play, except for safety reasons. Attacking police officers is also not acceptable and whoever does that must be taken to Khami Prison. Damaging of property in whatever form is also unacceptable as one will be inconveniencing society,” he said.
The veteran football administrator also feels the violence could have been caused by fans under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
“As Highlanders we do not believe that this violence emanates directly from a football atmosphere. There seems to be some underlying factors that now find space to be vented through football such as drug addiction and unemployment, among other things.
“Tribalism is also a big problem. We do not condone insults that are hurled by fans or other songs with derogatory messages. At Highlanders, three quarters of my players are Shona, but you still hear some hooligans insulting the Shona tribe. We do not condone incidents of hooliganism, pitch invasion, inflammatory tribal utterances and songs. Football is played by the players for their sustenance and to entertain fans,” Gumede said.
He warned that hooliganism would drive out corporate sponsorship from football.
“Our economy is bad and we are lucky to have BancABC sponsoring us, but they wouldn’t want their name to be associated with violence, their image needs to be protected. If they leave Bosso, where am I going to get salaries for my players. The sponsors come to football and all they need is stability and good governance. We do not want a bad story every week about Highlanders in the newspapers, on radio or television.
“I feel there is something with the Zimbabwean mentality. In South Africa, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fans watch the match sitting next to each other, but in Zimbabwe it is very different.”