Zimbabwe Castle Lager PSL Matchday 16 Preview: Fan Hooliganism, Laws of The Game, And League Resumption

 By Tawanda Chari

Matchday 15 ZIM PSL results: Yadah 0-2 FC Platinum, Ngezi 4-0 Tenax, Bulawayo City 3-0 ZPC Kariba, Whawha 1-1 Harare City, Herentals 1-1 Bulawayo Chiefs, Triangle United 5-2 Cranborne Bullets, Manica Diamonds 0-0 Black Rhinos,  Caps United 0-1 Chicken Inn, Highlanders 1-0 Dynamos (suspended)

Mapeza and his youthful FC Platinum were back to winning ways away at Yadah as Ngezi thrashed new comers Tenax by 4 goals to nil at Baobab Stadium. Wayne Makuva put Ngezi into the lead just three minutes into the first half and then completed his brace in the 49th minute straight from a corner kick. Tinotenda Musariranwa doubled Ngezi's lead in the 13th minute with Deric Murimba completing the scoring to make it 4 at the 78th minute mark.

Bulawayo City relieved themselves from relegation spots, although still very much unsafe after beating fellow scrappers ZPC Kariba 3-0 on Saturday. Second-half goals from Melikhaya Ncube, Rodi Sibanda and Genius Mutungamiri gave Amakhosi the win desperately needed. Elswhere, Whawha shared the spoils with Harare City as Herentals squared points with Bulawayo Chiefs after both games finished 1-1. Triangle demolished Cranborne Bullets by 5 goals to 2 and it was an uneventful afternoon in Mutare where Manica Diamonds and Black Rhinos played to a drab goalless draw.

 Highlanders vs Dynamos

All the drama of Matchday 15 to last probably the rest of the season occurred at Babourfields Stadium in Bulawayo. The game was marred by a lot of tension. As it should, because it's the biggest league game and the fiercest rivalry of all time.

The game was abandoned before the fulltime whistle after chaotic scenes forced two lengthy stoppages.

The first stoppage happened just before the 70 minute mark and lasted for about fifteen minutes after Bill Antonio’s challenge left Andrew Tandi with a fractured fibula. This sent Highlanders players and fans alike into to frenzy. Antonio was shown a straight red card after some time had passed and Tandi had been stretchered off the pitch.

Now, a lot of the discourse surrounding the incident on social media and some respected sports journalists has shown some level of discrepancies that highlight a lack of understanding of Laws of the Game. Some people questioning the merit of the straight red card, unfairly critiquing the referee for that.

 It didn't help that referee Jimmy Makwanda failed to control the tension of the match coupled with a few questionable decisions however sending off Antonio was not one of them. Like in the Independence Cup final last month, Dynamos were unnecessarily aggressive.

 Law 12 IFAB (International Football Association Board)

Serious Foul Play

A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.

Notice how the law does not mention intent. It explicitly focuses on the action. Bill Antonio deserved a straight abandoned. Another lengthy stoppage followed when Highlanders took the lead in the 90th minute through Washington Navaya’s header from a corner.

The home team’s fans then invaded the pitch celebrating, while Dynamos players surrounded the referee protesting his decision to allow the goal as they felt there was a foul on Shadreck Nyahwa during the build-up to the goal and another rough challenge on keeper Tymon Mvula. Dembare’s supporters on the Mpilo end then joined in and also invaded the pitch, uprooted the goalposts and tore the nets causing the match to be abandoned.

The assistant referee had his flag up. However, decisions by the assistant referees are only advisory to the referee; their decisions are not binding and the referee is allowed to overrule an assistant. An assistant referee may also be called upon by the referee to provide an opinion regarding matters which the referee requires but decisions are normally based on what the referee sees.

In real time and by proxy of being Human, referees miss things. Football being a contact sport, a lot of fouls don't necessarily warrant a free kick as was the case for Dynamos. It was 2 soft fouls and decisions can go either way and we don't have VAR yet.

The Premier Soccer League then suspended the Castle Lager Premiership season following the violent scenes that marred the match between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium.

Crowd trouble, football hooliganism or more commonly football riot, is a form of civil disobedience involving belligerent behaviours perpetrated by spectators. It's unruly, violent, and destructive behaviour by overzealous supporters of football clubs, including brawling and vandalism. We're hoping it didn't get to brawling. More importantly, that sort of barbaric behavior is unacceptable. It endangers the lives of people and forces paying fans to still stop attending games. Children will be forced to stay home and that's lost revenue the sport just can't afford it lose at the moment.

 It feels like the suspension is punishment to the other 16 teams. Perhaps, it is and it's unfair. The state of Zimbabwean top flight football when it comes to proper stadiums worth of hosting matches is worrisome. If Babourfields can no longer host games that means all Bulawayo based clubs can not play home fixtures.

 It is a bad look on the administration of the League and the quality of our football both on and off the pitch. In the scope of things, suspending games was necessary though forced because of the circumstances.

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