PSL: Falling short of the goal
A blame game won’t address the underlying problems that have allowed fan violence to continue
Poor planning by the police is partly why a football match in Durban descended into violence at the weekend, if Premier Soccer League (PSL) boss Irvin Khoza is to be believed.
Fans invaded the pitch after Kaizer Chiefs lost 2-0 to their less popular rivals, Free State Stars, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. They broke television cameras and audio equipment, pulled at power cables and even set fire to a section of seats. Eighteen people were injured.
Khoza says police are often found wanting ahead of major soccer matches and have, in the past, failed to turn up at important planning meetings. He says the venue operations commander — a member of the SA Police Service — is the only person with the power to instruct police to act appropriately when an incident occurs. Without that person, no-one can intervene.
The PSL has also charged Kaizer Chiefs with bringing the game into disrepute.
Khoza promises to beef up match security, improve the training of security personnel and even increase the league’s security budget.
Does that absolve the PSL of responsibility?
Saturday’s incident only confirms what we already know: crowd control at stadiums is poor; security personnel are unequipped and without training; and unruly fan behaviour is rarely dealt with as soon as it comes to the attention of police or administrators.
At this match, staff failed to read the tense standoff in the stands long before the match came to an end.
But there is a bigger problem: few administrators have been held accountable for stadium-related violence.
Until that changes, don’t hold your breath for too many other changes.