PREMIER Soccer League (PSL) clubs continue to lose large sums of money due to the bad behaviour of their supporters while players go for months without getting their salaries, allowances and winning bonuses.
By Brian Nkiwane
The prevailing situation has not gone down well with the powers that represent football supporters as well as the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) who represent players’ interests.
From the standing order offences and fines report released by the PSL for the month of August, close to US$18 000 was raised from fines with top clubs Highlanders and Dynamos once again losing the largest chunk, due to the bad behaviour of their fans.
Other offences include negligence by the clubs to abide by standing Fifa and Zifa statutes which have nothing to do with supporters’ behaviour.
Standardsport caught up with Zifa Supporters liaison officer Simeone Jamanda whose position was a result of a directive from the world football governing body Fifa — to find out what PSL, working with clubs, can do to address the supporters’ behaviour to avoid a situation whereby clubs continue to lose large sums of money.
“I think this is an interesting topic that you have brought up. I for one have on many occasions after seeing the rate at which violence was rearing its ugly head in most of our matches, forwarded suggestions to PSL to have supporters educated on violence. As the football supreme body, PSL have to educate supporters on the dos and don’ts and how they should behave when they get to match venues. Football is no longer a family sport as we used to know it. We used to take our families to match venue but now it has become a death trap,” Jamanda said.
Jamanda challenged football sponsors to have supporters at heart, bearing in mind that matches are nothing without followers.
“I think if I remember very well, when Delta Beverages launched their Chibuku Super Cup, Maxan Karombo asked fans to behave for the brand’s protection. He pleaded with fans to behave. But my problem is when these sponsors come, they set aside the entire package for prizes and administration, forgetting to educate fans who make the game look beautiful with their following.”
Jamanda added that in the face of the 2017 Afcon bid, Zimbabwean football fans should behave to increase Zimbabwe’s chances of winning the bid to host the grand occasion.
“Honestly how are we going to win the bid to host such a big event when the media is always reporting about violence at match venues. It’s high time Zifa, PSL and football supporters representatives sit down for a common cause for the good of the game. It’s disheartening to note that players go for months without salaries because some mischievous supporter came from somewhere to throw stones into the pitch and the club gets fined and instead of paying players, the money goes towards the fine.
It’s unfair because for players, it is their own employment,” added Jamanda.
He took a swipe at PSL who last year had to garnish most of the clubs’ prize money for similar offences.
“Last year a number of clubs went home empty-handed after PSL garnished their prize money. They should have players at heart as well.”
FUZ secretary general Paul Gundani echoed Jamanda’s sentiments; “As FUZ, we have been trying by all means as well to engage Zifa and PSL on these issues but to no joy. It’s high time Zifa, PSL, players and supporters sit down to come up with a workable relationship that will see all this being a thing of the past.
It’s no longer safe to go to watch football matches. What we need to do is educate supporters on how they should behave when they get to match venues. It’s better for PSL to lose money investing in supporters’ education than for clubs to continue losing money through paying fines.
“PSL must ensure clubs have friendly marshals who will be able to calm down fans in case they would want to revolt or throw missiles. In addition to that, clubs should pay the police to maintain peace and order at the games. Police should be looking at the terraces so that whoever is caught misbehaving or throwing missiles would be brought to book,” Gundani said.
PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele said clubs as entities should be in a position to defend the actions by their fans.
“Clubs should make sure they abide by Fifa and Zifa statutes to avoid some of these small things which will cost them money. We sat with the board of governors who are the ones who put in place these statutes. It was agreed for example on the issue of throwing missiles or pitch invasion, that the charges should be reduced by 50% from the previous year from US$8 000 to where it is now (US$4 000). These were the board or governors who are representatives from all the 16 clubs. The league is there only to enforce,” Ndebele said.
He however agreed that there was need to educate football supporters on the dos and don’ts when they get to football match venues.
Zifa communications manager Xolisani Gwesela said Zifa was in full support of PSL.
“Clubs should be responsible for the actions of their fans. They should come up with policy frameworks that guide supporters. Look at continental levels, if club fans misbehave, CAF fines the clubs there and there. So it just has to be the pattern,” Gwesela said.