SA football cannot allow hooligans to run amok
I seldom get upset. I have over the years learned to be tolerant and always, without fail, I try to understand the other person’s point of view or put myself in another man’s shoes. But this week was one time when my tolerant level ran very low after watching the disgusting behavior of Mamelodi Sundowns supporters.
Yeah, go ahead and proclaim that “eish, daai toppie wa phapha” or “how dare he condemn us when we have always roughed up previous coaches and got away with it?” Truth is that like many law-abiding citizens, and a supporter of football who believes that in every game there is a winner and a loser, I think enough is enough!
For far too long, Sundowns supporters have been a law unto themselves. I can list the number of transgressions that they have committed and Sundowns management has in the past appeared paralyzed to act against them. It has got to a stage where they now want to dictate to the club how it should be run and who to hire and who to fire.
Mind you, I am mindful of the fact that they are an integral part of the club and their weekly R40 entry fee, or is it R25, helps the club to accrue much needed finances that go towards paying the laundry, coffee and tea, biscuits and some soft drinks so that visitors to Chloorkop should have something to nibble and drink when they arrive.
But that by no means gives them the latitude to them holds the club to ransom. It does not mean when the club does not perform to their expectations, then they should rip the chairs off their hinges and break down the security barriers while others throw missiles at the coach, calling for his blood.
They are responsible for the firing of nearly 14 coaches in a period of eight years. And after their dastardly act, as the drinks flow at various drinking holes around Tshwane they regale other patrons about how poor Johan Neeskens ran like a scared chicken as they rained missiles on him!
Only a coward will take pride in humiliating a grandfather like Neeskens who was forced to run the gauntlet of flying objects hurled in his direction as he made his way to the tunnel. His crime is that his players failed him by their inability to score against Moroka Swallows and therefore he had to pay the price.
Mind you, it was not the first time that they had behaved in this shameful manner. I recall the wife of Antonio Habas Lopez being admitted to a hospital after she was traumatized by the sight of her husband escorted out of the Lucas Moripe Stadium with crazed fans baying for his blood.
I have also watched them countless times trashing the Lucas Moripe Stadium a few weeks ago when Sundowns had lost 2-1 to Maritzburg United. In fact, it has become the norm for them to uproot the security fence and vent their anger and frustration at the coach every time their team loses at home.
Is Sundowns anointed to win every match? Or is football about winning and losing? And if you lose, are you supposed to behave in the manner that they have been over the years? I watched in disbelief as some of them performed a kind of ritual dance, marveling at their handy work after trashing the Dobsonville Stadium and I felt sick.
We can no longer blame the Nationalist government and everything white and apartheid, because the Nationalist government does no longer exist. We need to look ourselves in the mirror and if we do not admit that most times our general behavior sucks, then heaven help us.
I realised that we are all to blame for this nonsense. We have collectively in the past stood by, sometimes even encouraged and then looked the other way as taxi drivers, municipal workers, teachers, bus and truck drivers all trashed our cities every time they go on strike in demand of one thing or another.
And while in most in most instances the strikes might have been legitimate, it by no means justifies the strikers to trash the city or for striking bus drivers to torch every passing delivery truck. By the same token, it does not mean if Sundowns supporters cannot stomach their team’s defeat, they should therefore trash the stadium and like hooligans, chase around the coach while beating him up.
It is not just Sundowns supporters. But both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates supporters as well are not angels and are guilty of thesame offence. They have cut deep holes in the pockets of their respective clubs in terms of fines that they had to pay to the league as a result of their unacceptable behavior.
The English game was on the verge of collapse, run andcontrolled by the skinheads and louts masquerading as supporters. Every time they were high on whatever they had smoked prior to a match or disagreed with the decision of a referee, they engaged in fights that threatened the very existence of the league.
Alarmed by the growing violence in their game, the British football authorities sat down and engaged the police and private security firms, installed CCTV cameras at various stadiums across the country - at a very high cost for that matter - and started slowly, rooting out the hooligan elements from their game.
It might have taken the South African football authorities forever, to wake up to the realisation that unless they do something drastic, our game is heading one way – downhill – and will be taken over by louts, but I commend them for engaging the police this week and even pressing charges against the Dobsonville hooligans.
Maybe if people served time in the chookie, perhaps only then will they accept the results of a game and subscribed to the saying that win or lose, as a sportsman we will accept the result and better luck next time for the losing team supporters.