By Sports Reporter
BULAWAYO giants Highlanders have blamed the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) for the violence that led to abandonment of their Castle Lager Premiership football match against FC Platinum at Mandava Stadium on Saturday.
The two sides were level at 1-1 when referee Kuzivakwamwari Jaravaza awarded the hosts a penalty in the 82nd minute after Peter Muduwa was adjudged to have fouled Walter Musona in the box.
The controversial decision angered Highlanders players, who protested the decision and their fans responded by invading the pitch targeting Jaravasa and one of the assistants Albinos Zigwati.
The crowd trouble led to the abandonment of the match as police officers ended up using tear gas in a bid to disperse the crowd.
In a strongly worded statement, Bosso lashed at the police, blaming them for being heavy-handed in responding to the supporters who had invaded the pitch in protest against a late penalty awarded to the hosts.
“Highlanders Football Club would like to condemn in the strongest sense, the conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers who were entrusted with the responsibility to provide security during a Premier Soccer League match between FC Platinum and Highlanders at Mandava Stadium on Saturday,” Bosso said.
“The club understands ZRP to be a stakeholder of the game whose mandate is to provide security for players, officials, and the fans. The violent and thuggish behaviour by ZRP towards fans and players cannot be tolerated as it brings our football into disrepute.
“Whilst the club does not condone pitch invasion and missile throwing by a section of football fans it was unnecessary for ZRP to throw tear smoke towards fans as this behaviour ended up affecting players, officials, and some innocent fans.
“The act was against the basic principles of crowd management and as a result, the victims were players and officials who ZRP purported to protect.
“As if that was not enough, ZRP further went on a rampage, assaulting innocent fans outside the stadium and in some instances beating up vehicles they perceived to be belonging to, and ferrying Highlanders fans.
“The club takes this opportunity to assume its members, fans, and all other stakeholders of its commitment to its values of Ubuntu, which encompasses such ethics as respect for self and respect for others, hence further commitment to engage all other stakeholders, ZRP involved, in trying to bring to end hooliganism and violence in this stadia.
“We further take this opportunity to empathize with all the innocent victims of yesterday’s acts of violence and condemn a few individuals who were involved in the acts of pitch invasion and missile throwing,” read the statement.
Highlanders are expected to be punished by the Premier Soccer League for the mayhem caused by their supporters at Mandava.