By Anesu Chakanetsa

THE headmaster at Glen View 2 Primary School finally came out with a plan to curb violence during football matches so as not to unnecessarily lose points.

He ordered home fans, that is GV 2 Primary pupils, to use the area near the orchard, far away from the entrance, as the supporting stand. The away team fans would use the area near the entrance so that if anything happens, they would simply run away from the danger. 

The headmaster also chose the so-called bullies and pampered them with sweets and biscuits to maintain order during matches. They would pinpoint the troublemakers during matches, effectively taking them out as trouble makers.

Other schools around Glen View copied these measures. 

Football violence also manifested in schools in town, especially at the foreign-heroes-named schools, Churchill, Prince Edward and Allan Wilson Boys High. 

Running battles would be witnessed after sporting games. 

And away from towns, in the then greener pastures of Zimbabwe, now eroded and deforested, students and teachers were also involved in violent acts. 

They would not dare watch their teams lose to rival schools. 

For example in Chipinge, the Gaza vs Mt Selinda high schools sporting rivalry would end up involving teachers and headmasters fighting verbally, while students sometimes fought physically. 

But there were some peaceful schools like St Faith and Marist Nyanga that would, after a defeat, say: “See you in ZIMSEC exams (Tosangana ku ZIMSEC)”. And surely they would wallop all other schools in academics. 

These were not violent schools. 

Football is a beautiful game but sometimes with ugly results if ugly methods are used to win. 

Recently, the Zimbabwe Premier Soccer League (ZPSL) was suspended due to acts of violence. 

The major line of argument that made rounds is that only two or so teams and their fans are the culprits of all this madness. 

Was the league supposed to be suspended anyway?

Well, the schools rivalry example was meant to paint a picture on how football is a beautiful game where everyone wants to win. 

But there are those who do not want to lose at any given time; or others who do not want to lose to some specific teams. 

The Dynamos versus Highlanders debacle still rages on.

In the recent Dembare versus Highlanders match, Dynamos fans  invaded the pitch and uprooted goal posts, much to the disgust of Highlanders fans who retaliated.

The match was abandoned with a few injury minutes to go. 

A month back, Highlanders fans invaded the Mandava Stadium pitch after FC Platinum were awarded a penalty in the 85th minute. Zvishavane-based FC Platinum fans also retaliated. 

It became a ‘Tom and Jerry’ affair. 

In the words of Ronaldo Gaucho De Assis Moreira or the little Ronaldo, Ronaldinho: “I play football to enjoy not to win. If l lose, l lose knowing that l have enjoyed playing football.”

In the semi-final of UEFA Champions league 2007, Liverpool eliminated Barcelona, then Ronaldinho’s team. After the match, Ronaldinho was seen smiling, congratulating his opponents.

Well, even where football is thought to be established, football violence is rife. 

In the 1980s, some English Football clubs were barred from participating in European regional games due to crowd trouble. 

In Austria, some football fan gangs were sentenced to life in prison for killing fellow fans. 

Yes, that is the ugly side of the beautiful game. 

The Soweto derby in South Africa used to be so colossal that fans came to the stadium with weapons. 

But today, they sit side-by-side watching football. They board the same taxis and sometimes sing together as they enter the football venue. 

Football violence is now a thing of the past in South Africa. 

They have realised football fosters unity rather than creating rancid vendettas. 

Our football, more than ever, needs order as we seek to rebuild after the ban by FIFA from participating in international football.

Is banning football, like we did, really the solution? 

Well this presentation is not meant to justify violence in Zimbabwe football stadia but an appeal for sanity to prevail in the PSL against all odds. 

Violence can surely be quelled if proper channels are taken, physically, mentally, emotionally and economically. 

Has the PSL deducted points from the culprits. 

Do those so-called big teams have money to employ stewards who are able to pick out troublemakers, like what the GV 2 Primary School head did. 

And has the Zimbabwe Republic Police failed to control crowds? 

Well, if all of these are not solutions, why should troublesome fans come to stadiums?

In Argentina and Brazil, some derbies are played without fans, not because of COVID-19, but because of crowd trouble.

Zimbabwe football does not want the repeat of past and recent  stadium massacres that took the lives of people, ever. 

Futebol ést Amor.

Football is love.

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