BY FORTUNE MBELE/HENRY MHARA
THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) has called on local soccer governing body Zifa to probe referees amid allegations of poor match officiating that reportedly resulted in violence flaring up in games involving the country’s top three clubs on Wednesday.
Games involving Dynamos, Caps United, ZPC Kariba and Highlanders were all marred by violence.
A match between Dynamos and champions FC Platinum at Rufaro Stadium had to be stopped for 16 minutes as the home supporters rained missiles onto the pitch in protest over referee Brighton Chimene’s decision to ignore a penalty appeal when striker Evans Katema went down following a challenge by FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari.
Katema was instead booked for assimilation, further infuriating the Dynamos supporters, already frustrated by Chimene who had earlier on disallowed Jarrison Selemani’s goal from an indirect free-kick.
While Chimene may have been correct to rule out the effort when Selemani scored directly from the kick, when the ball should have first come into contact with another player from either team, it did not improve his CV in the eyes of the spectators.
The penalty appeal decision effectively helped tip over the scales, with fans pelting Mhari every time he tried to take his position on goal. Twice the missiles landed on him, and he had to be attended to by the team’s doctors.
Video footage circulating on social media shows that Chimene may have made the wrong call, as Mhari looked like clattering on the dreadlocked striker who had been sent clean through on goal. The match which ended goalless, only resumed after the Dynamos executive pleaded with the supporters to calm down.
PSL, while condoning the hooliganism that followed, feels that the mistakes that match officials have been making of late are far too many, and Zifa should investigate them.
“The Premier Soccer League is appalled by skirmishes and match disturbances that took place during PSL fixtures played on Wednesday. The PSL strongly condemns the unacceptable behaviour witnessed at Rufaro during a match between Dynamos and FC Platinum, ZPC Kariba versus Highlanders at Nyamhunga and Chicken Inn versus Caps United at Barbourfields,” PSL said in a statement yesterday.
“Hooliganism has no place in our football and as such we urge football fans, players and administrators to respect the referee’s decision, to abide by the rules and regulations of the competition and to act in a responsible manner. We also call upon the Zifa referees committee to investigate the clubs’ complaints of poor match officiating.”
At Barbourfields, the match between Chicken Inn and log leaders Caps also had stoppages as the away supporters threw missiles onto the field after referee Happy Mabhena had awarded a questionable penalty to the home team.
Caps players walked off the pitch in protest and only returned after some lengthy discussions to see Passmore Bernard converting the penalty.
Chicken Inn won the match 1-0. Allegations are that the Caps players manhandled the match referee and security details at full time, and also destroyed property in the dressing rooms.
In Kariba, in the match against hosts ZPC Kariba and Highlanders, there was also commotion as players from both sides scuffled while supporters in the stands engaged in their own war following the expulsion of Prince Dube who was shown a red card by referee Tatenda Bvekerwa for a stamp on goalkeeper Future Sibanda.The chaotic scenes caused a five-minute match stoppage Zifa yesterday said the rogue elements would be identified and brought to book.
“We have seen footage circulating on social media depicting acts of hooliganism and violent scenes in some PSL matches played yesterday (Wednesday). We are waiting for match commissioners’ reports which we will study meticulously. However, let me hasten to state that violence and hooliganism have no place in our beautiful game. Hooliganism belongs to the Homo erectus era when human beings were still learning to walk. We are now in the new millennium where football celebrates tenets of fair play, respect, peace and tranquillity,” Zifa spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said.
“The association will also examine the footage and all these heinous elements causing mayhem will be identified and brought to book. In the process, Zifa will also invoke football statutes to ensure that these ghastly and violent elements are banned from attending our matches. We also appeal to the police to ensure that these hoodlums are prosecuted,” he