Something Urgent Needs To Be Done
Firstly, let me thank Soccer Laduma editor, Vuyani Joni, for accepting my request to pen this week’s editor’s column, as I’d like to deal with something that really left a bitter taste in my mouth this past weekend.
It did not come as a totally complete surprise to me when Kaizer Chiefs supporters lost their heads and went on a rampage at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night following a comprehensive 2-0 beating at the hands of Free State Stars in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals. They have, after all, seen it happen before. They probably watched with glee and a smug of satisfaction as Orlando Pirates supporters ripped up stadium seats at Loftus and unplugged television broadcast cables when Mamelodi Sundowns handed them a 6-0 beating last season.
They must have also observed the PSL Prosecutor hesitate to punish Pirates for their misdeeds by merely slapping them on the wrist. It did not go unnoticed that, for such a heinous act, Pirates supporters were only “barred” from attending a single match at the Orlando Stadium. The sentence was so ludicrous I had no doubt that it was designed to encourage the hooligan element within certain football club supporter structures to misinterpret the “slap on the wrist” as giving Pirates supporters the licence to go berserk whenever results do not go their team’s way.
The ink had hardly dried up on the ridiculous “punishment” when Chiefs supporters felt throwing an assortment of missiles onto the field (as they did against Chippa United) three weeks ago was so old-fashioned, they needed to copy the thuggish behaviour of the Pirates supporters at Loftus to be considered macho. I watched in horror a video clip of a security officer being kicked and smashed on the head with a plastic chair. The official is seen trying to hide his face as the angry mob descends on him like a pack of hungry wolves and then a pot-bellied fellow displaying all the signs of masculine cowardly tendencies kicks the helpless official in the face.
I accept that a lot of people invest emotions in the teams that they support. I also acknowledge that defeat can, at the best of times, be difficult and very painful to accept. But sportsmanship dictates that you naturally celebrate when you win.
And losing is part of the equation and does not imply that you are bad. Rather, it is a wake-up call, which allows you to retrace your footsteps, go through the match to identify areas where you went wrong in order to rectify those mistakes and become a better team. There are certainly no excuses for the thuggish behaviour of the section of Chiefs supporters. I truly feel sorry for Kaizer Motaung who has painstakingly built a brand premised on the slogan of “Love and Peace” and trying at every given opportunity to promote brotherhood.
However, I’m positive that even the great ‘Chincha Guluva’ must accept that something urgent needs to be done to remove the ruffians, criminal elements and hooligans masquerading as a peace-loving folk that have infiltrated his club. This sickening culture of violence is an affront to us as a society. I saw the expression on President Matamela Ramaphosa when he returned from Mahikeng this week. I could not put my finger on exactly how to describe that look. It was not a look of resignation, mind you. It was something much deeper like he has been gravely hurt by the wanton destruction of property and trying very hard to figure out where we have totally missed the signpost as a people by resorting to so much violence every time we are confronted by challenges.
Amakhosi supporters might no longer have wanted Steve Komphela to be the club’s head coach. But surely there are correct and proper channels to follow regarding a process to make their grievances known by management rather than the hooliganism displayed on the night. I have seen it happen to Gordon Igesund, Augusto Palacios, Henri Michel and countless other coaches who have been smuggled out of the various stadiums through hiding inside police vehicles as angry supporters threatened to re-arrange their physical appearances, in most instances causing untold damage to property.
And perhaps the time has come for the PSL to stop issuing statements and promising to launch a Commission of Enquiry into the hooliganism rearing an ugly head into our beautiful game but accept that imposing fines on clubs has failed to yield results.
Now is the time to consider revising their rules and regulations and debate whether docking a club three or six points in addition to a spot fine in future would not act as a deterrent to errant clubs and their supporters. Maybe the PSL also need to consider encouraging their clubs to invest heavily in security and ensure a high profile presence of security personnel at venues irrespective of whether it is a category A, B, or C match.
In addition, I would suggest that the PSL should also seriously consider employing a full-time prosecutor who would deal with cases of misconduct and other misdemeanours speedily and efficiently without delay and let us avoid, for instance, the Pirates affair that took almost 15 months to be resolved. And, could the prosecutor be given much more teeth to deal ruthlessly with errant clubs and cases like this embarrassing Tendai Ndoro matter that is doing nothing but tarnishing the image of an organisation that is viewed with envy and total respect across the continent?
This is not a time for point scoring or finger-pointing. The very survival of our game is at stake and needs all of us to put aside sentimental attachments and personal considerations and think how best to get out of this deep hole that we have dug ourselves into.