Zambia: Curb Hooliganism At Football Games

The chaos that characterised the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) MTN Super League matches in Lusaka involving Nkana and Red Arrows at Nkoloma Stadium and Zanaco against Green Buffaloes at Sunset should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

We know how much Zambians love football and the emotions the game stirs up among the citizenry but the violence witnessed at the weekend is no excuse. That type of behavior has no place in the widely acclaimed beautiful game or any other sport for that matter. It holds no place in our society.

Unfortunately, this behavior has taken root at the so called big teams in the Super League and it begs the question whether it is by design or induced by other factors. Even the football mother body FAZ admits that there has been an increase in reports of violence at match venues across the league this season.

One thing that jumps out at the first glance is the teams involved. Nkana with all its footballing history has been at the center of the larger chunk of these ugly incidents at the stadiums.

Their supporters are largely responsible for half of the cases of crowd trouble at the games.

While many may not associate Zanaco with violence, Sunset has a long history of intimidating match officials and harassment of the media personnel that go to cover matches there. The main protagonists are the security guards on duty. These are the same individuals that are supposed to make the place safe.

Football is a family show and violence puts innocent children and women in harm's way and a sure way of chasing away sponsors.

We condemn violence in any sphere of life but we urge all stakeholders to voice out just like they do in the political arena. We know Zambians abhor violence because they are peaceful people that love to live harmoniously side by side. This is just a game and no one should be injured because they went to support a different team.

FAZ have not helped matters as they have continued to render lip service. They have continuously warned teams but no action has been taken for erring teams. On a few occasions they have, it has been belatedly and inadequate. Teams know they will escape with a slap on the arm.

The sale of alcohol at the stadium has contributed to these acts especially the bottled drinks with glass which becomes a potent weapon. The inadequate security that gets to be overrun by the mob coupled with ill skilled security deployed at the venues.

These hooligans should not be treated with kid's gloves because their acts are criminal. The breaking of private and Government property at Nkoloma that included an ambulance warrants quick and decisive action to nip the violence in the bud.

Match officials have become a soft target for club officials if they give a decision that goes against a particular team or did not at the end of the game as they get physically manhandled in the presence of security.

The violence needs to stop and FAZ should act decisively to protect the integrity of the Super League to the World audience as our game has become a global product on television.

Those found wanting should be punished accordingly without prejudice.

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