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The season is scarcely a month old and Kaizer Chiefs find themselves on the carpet again. As has been the case for the past few seasons, a section of the club’s huge fan base has put their favourite team in the naughty corner.

The latest disciplinary action against Amakhosi follows another case of indiscipline in which angry fans hurled objects at coach Molefi Ntseki after the team’s 1-0 defeat against TS Galaxy at the Mbombela Stadium on August 20.

Fortunately there were no injuries. Chiefs pleaded guilty to two charges of spectator misbehaviour and this time the club has been slapped with a R100,000 fine, of which R30,000 is suspended for 24 months, on condition that during that period they are not found guilty of the same offence.

At the start of last season the club was fined R200,000, with half the amount suspended for 24 months, for bringing the PSL into disrepute after their fans invaded the Danie Craven Stadium pitch during the MTN8 clash with Stellenbosch FC.   

Over the past few years Chiefs — and Orlando Pirates — have copped fines and disciplinary action for the misbehaviour of their fans. While it is understandable that emotions run high when one’s team is it at the wrong end of a refereeing decision or the coach makes an unpopular substitution, there is no excuse for antisocial behaviour at grounds that are supposed to be safe arenas for entertainment.

Amid all the fines handed to mainly Chiefs, and to a lesser extent Pirates, over the past few seasons, the misbehaving fans have got off scot-free. Clearly, the fines and disciplinary action have had no effect in stopping the misbehaviour of the hotheads. 

Assaulted guard

Yes, there was the occasion in April 2018 when nine fans were arrested and later found guilty of public violence after Chiefs lost their Nedbank Cup semifinal to Free State Stars at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. The group was filmed live on national TV destroying camera equipment, valued at about R2.6m, and assaulting a security guard. 

The end result was that only one of the group, Kwezilomo Madiba, was sentenced to three years in jail for assaulting the security guard who sustained serious head injuries. The other eight were given three-year suspended sentences. They were also ordered to 12 months of correctional supervision and 16 hours of community service a month. Given the mayhem and havoc they wreaked their sentences amounted to slaps on the wrist.

It is time for the PSL to come down hard on errant fans, particularly for the sake of those who come to the stadium to enjoy a peaceful afternoon supporting their team.

Nowadays there are high-definition cameras at all top-flight games so it shouldn’t be difficult to identify the perpetrators. These fans could then be charged, as the PSL and the clubs are empowered to do by the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act of 2010. This will send a strong message to others thinking of taking a similar route. 

I hold no brief for Kaizer Chiefs but it’s hard to fathom why the club should have to cough up for the misbehaviour of a few fans. More perplexing is that some of the fines have been issued when the team plays away from home when ground security is not even their responsibility.

It is time the PSL clubs unite against all forms of violent, threatening and abusive behaviour and issue a stern warning to fans that such behaviour will not be tolerated. There have been suggestions that the offending club be punished by having to play a number of home games behind closed doors. But why punish innocent fans at the expense of a minority?

The PSL would do well to take a leaf out of the English Premier League’s book regarding strong action against misbehaving fans. In recent times a growing number of offenders have been banned from attending matches countrywide. In addition, all the teams in the league have signed an agreement committing themselves to enforcing spectator bans.

As long as there are no consequences for unruly behaviour that could potentially cause serious injury and even loss of life, a minority will continue to act with impunity.

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