BULAWAYO – Highlanders have strongly condemned unruly fans who caused the abandonment of the league match against Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Irate Bosso fans threw missiles at referee Munyaradzi Majoni and his assistant Thomas Kusosa after they had allowed a controversial equaliser by Dynamos forward Christian Ntouba to stand in the 42nd minute.
After a brief stoppage, play was ready to resume as it seemed the tempers had cooled down but all hell broke loose as Bosso fans invaded the pitch.
Although both teams wanted to continue with the match, the match commissioner had to order the match to be abandoned due to the safety of the players, match officials and the crowd.
The Bulawayo giants now face Premier Soccer League sanctions after they were summoned to a disciplinary hearing next Tuesday.
Newly-appointed Highlanders chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube has been thrown into the deep end as he has to manage this crisis created by the thuggish behaviour demonstrated by a section of his club’s fans.
Yesterday, Dube released a statement distancing the club from the unruly spectators who soiled Sunday’s match.
“Highlanders…categorically stands unequivocally opposed to all forms of disruptive behaviour occurring before, during and after football games,” Dube said.
“Our club regards missile throwing, pitch invasion and other acts that disrupt the smooth proceedings of football matches as abhorrent.
“It is our sincere belief that true football fans and genuine Highlanders followers want to see fairness in the game and understand the cost of disruptive behaviour even when they do not agree with a call made by match officials.
“It is our sincere belief that those who threw missiles and invaded the pitch are not genuine Highlanders fans.
“We urge our fans to protect the image of their club, interests of the sponsors, and partners and all stakeholders at all times.”
The former Bosso treasurer said supporters must not take the law into their own hands when they feel match officials have made the wrong call.
“Indeed, we recognise that the goal scored by our opponents during the match raised questions regarding its legitimacy as it appeared to our fans and players to have been scored from a suspected offside position and appreciate that the above stated contributed immensely to the events which led to the match ending prematurely,” Dube said.
“Regardless of all these considerations, the acts of missile throwing and pitch invasion as occurred at the abandoned match are inexcusable and as such we condemn the unfortunate behaviour in the strongest of terms and dissociate the club from all forms of misconduct.”
The Bosso chief reiterated his club’s commitment to engaging their members, fans and football stakeholders as they seek a permanent solution to solve this problem of hooliganism.
Dube also paid tribute to those fans that did not partake in the violence and swiftly exited the venue without causing any further incidents after it had been announced that the match had been abandoned.