Dynamos, Highlanders hold ‘historic’ meeting with PSL chairman to ease tensions over his controversial ‘hooliganism’ claims


HARARE – Zimbabwe’s football giants Dynamos FC and Highlanders FC held a meeting with the Premier Soccer League (PSL) chairman Farai Jere on Friday 1 March to ease simmering tensions after the latter recently suggested that the two clubs are “violent” and inclined to hooliganism—comments which the two clubs jointly condemned as “inflammatory” and “reckless”.

PSL chairman Farai Jere reaches out to Dynamos and Highlanders for unity following controversial hooliganism claims
PSL Chairman Farai Jere reached out to Dynamos and Highlanders for a ‘peaceful coexistence’ – mitigating the aftermath of his controversial ‘hooliganism’ claims which were denounced by both clubs as ‘inflammatory’ and ‘reckless’. 

Jere had initially said that the PSL intentionally scheduled the 2024 season opener between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo to mitigate perennial tensions—and this did not go down well with the two clubs. 

Jere’s reasoning was that having the fixture later in the season exacerbates tensions; more so when both clubs vie for the league title.

In a statement released by PSL, Friday’s “historic meeting” was thus held with the goal of promoting a “peaceful environment at PSL matches” through concerted efforts from the respective football leaders involved in this foray of sporting diplomacy—efforts portending “a new era of collaboration and unity within the football community”. 

The PSL said that all parties involved reportedly reached a consensus to create an “atmosphere of sportsmanship and camaraderie” particularly in light of the league’s opening match featuring Highlanders v Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium

“In a historic meeting that signals a new era of collaboration and unity within the football community, the Chairman of the Premier Soccer League (PSL), Hon Farai Jere joined forces with Dynamos FC Chairman, Mr Moses Maunganidze and Highlanders FC Chairman Rtd. Col Kenneth Mhlophe and had a frank engagement over the recent statements issued by the PSL Chairman,” the statement read. 

“There was a consensus on the way forward as the parties resolved to work hand in hand to create an atmosphere of sportsmanship and camaraderie during the upcoming big match between Highlanders FC and Dynamos FC next week.”

Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League PSL chairman Farai Jere seeks unity with Dynamos and Highlanders
PSL Chairman Farai Jere. 

The PSL further noted that the meeting—chaired by the Chairman of the PSL Technical and Development Committee, Mr Marimba Chihowa—was marked by “open and constructive dialogue”—adding that the upcoming Battle of Zimbabwe match between Bosso and Dembare will mark the beginning of this “newfound collaboration” between the country’s two most illustrious clubs and the PSL. 

The statement by the PSL added: “The upcoming big match is anticipated to be a showcase of the newfound collaboration, as the leaders call on fans from all sides to come together in large numbers and witness the passion and skill on display. 

“Their shared goal is to turn this match into a model for peaceful coexistence and sportsmanship, setting a positive precedent of zero tolerance to violence for all future PSL matches.”

The PSL concluded by stating that the concerned football leaders have made lucid their “commitment to providing a secure and enjoyable experience for fans where rivalries can be expressed with passion but always within the bounds of respect”. 

The 2024 Zimbabwe Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season commences on the 9th of March, 2024. 

“Fans can look forward to a season filled with exciting matches, a vibrant atmosphere and a renewed sense of community, reinforcing the belief that football has the power to bring people together in celebration of the beautiful game,” PSL concluded.

Jere’s comments in the past weeks insinuating that the two clubs cannot be redeemed from their alleged helpless proclivities towards ‘violence’ apparently did little to cultivate a message of unity within the divisive terrains of the Zimbabwean domestic football scene. 

“We want to exorcise that ghost of having violence at Barbourfields whenever these teams are playing. If that happens we are going to fine both teams heavily. We want to have this match played early in the season because we cannot allow two clubs to hold the entire league at ransom; they can’t be allowed to bring the whole league into disrepute,” he said, and expectedly, this drew the ire of the two titans of Zimbabwean football. 

The Castle Lager Matchday 22 fixture between Bosso and Dembare on September 10, 2023, erupted into frenetic violent scenes—leading to its abandonment a few minutes before halftime. This was after Highlanders fans at Barbourfields’ Soweto End launched an onslaught of missiles before invading the pitch in protest of a referee’s decision. Dynamos were leading 2-0. 

The September 2023 pandemonium at Barbourfields—with police failing to control unruly fans who charged at them—unfolded a few moments after Dynamos’ second goal; compelling the players and coaching staff from both sides to return to the dressing rooms.

After the match was abandoned, the PSL, in a statement signed by the chairman Farai Jere, condemned the acts of violence, declaring: “... We would like to reiterate that violence and hooliganism have no place in our football”. 

“We deplore elements who want to use football gatherings to pursue selfish and divisive interests,” the PSL said then. 

In October 2023, Dynamos were awarded the three points by PSL for the abandoned match—however, they were also handed a US$3,500 fine for the violent manner in which their fans reacted to the barrage of attacks from their Highlanders counterparts. 

Highlanders defender Peter Muduhwa was handed a US$500 fine; and was also slapped with a four-game suspension for the role he played in instigating the violence that ensued. 

It is amid this backdrop of such acerbic encounters that the PSL [unilaterally] made the decision to put Highlanders v Dynamos as an opening fixture for the 2024 Castle Lager PSL season—a decision that only drew widespread criticism and did little to nurture an atmosphere of unity. 

The hope, thus, is that Friday’s dialogue between the PSL and the two clubs will pave way for a fruitful season devoid of violent disturbances that tarnish the reputation of the country’s top-flight league. 

It is also hoped that this recent meeting will advance a culture of mutual dialogue to find solutions that are mutually beneficial for all parties in Zimbabwe’s sporting scene.

And that this “historic meeting”—marked by a “frank engagement”—does not equate to superficial shows of empty talk. 

All parties involved ought to walk the talk for the progress of Zimbabwe’s local football scene. 

Post a Comment