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PSL must come down hard on violent fans to stop the rot

South African football has the worrying tendency to continually shoot itself in the foot, and the violent scenes at the finish of the Absa Premiership clash between Kaizer Chiefs are Chippa United last weekend are just another example.

There was a time when violence at matches was fairly commonplace, driving families away from games and hurting the image of the local league.

Frustrated fans would fight among themselves, rip up seats and throw any other manner of objects onto the pitch to show their displeasure.

Those scenes had been growing fewer and fewer over the years, but in the last two seasons, there's been a worrying return to those days.

The despicable violence meted out by Orlando Pirates supporters during their 6-0 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns in February last year remain unpunished, although the club has been found guilty of failing to control their fans.

We are only told that the punishment will be handed down when the PSL's Disciplinary Committee convenes this year, but it's already midway through April.

This is, of course, nothing short of an attempt to stall the process, but while there is no sight of justice being done, it emboldens others to act the same in the belief that they too will go unpunished.

Therefore, there was little surprise when we had the ugly scenes at the FNB Stadium on Saturday, as Chiefs lost 3-0 to Chippa United to finally end any realistic hope of lifting the Absa Premiership title.

Bottles and other objects thrown from just above the entrance to the tunnel pelted the players and coach Steven Komphela as they left the pitch after the game.

There was no security in sight, nor any police to stop what was rampant vandalism and, one could say, a blatant criminal case of assault.

Why supporters believe they have the right to act in that way is a mystery, though there is a good chance the behaviour was fuelled by alcohol.

However, it was certainly not an isolated number of fans, as a sizeable group threw objects, more tore down barricades and others ripped up advertising hoardings.

Chiefs should be forced to play their final two home games of the season behind closed doors and receive a sizeable, meaningful fine, as they have plenty of previous in this regard.

Some may say it is not the club's fault that their fans turned violent, but images clearly demonstrate inadequate security and that is a charge that can be laid at the door of the club.

The PSL has a problem with fan violence, whether they want to admit it or not, and only meting out harsh punishments will go anyway to eradicating this. It is not even about waiting for someone to die for something to be done - that has already happened, as recently as 2015 when a Chiefs fan was shot dead as the crowd invaded the pitch in celebration at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

The current fan ire is directed at coach Komphela, but with the Nedbank Cup still up for grabs, he is unlikely to go anywhere before the end of the season, when his contract will almost certainly not be renewed.

"I cannot run away. I'm not the kind of guy who runs away from responsibility. If you are a proud person, sacrifice and responsibility are part of the components of the job," he told reporters after the match.

"I'm not allowing my emotions to become negative because that will deflate you. You have to try and stay positive.

"You have to take responsibility and get yourself ready for a backlash and know that is part of the game‚ it comes with the territory. If you are a coach‚ you must face it.

"The way out of it is to club together as a group of players and coaches. You cannot imagine a scenario where there is a cold wind coming from outside and you are opening the cracks even further.

"Sometimes when something bad happens from outside‚ it brings you together," he concluded. "[We can] use this result to get closer and push when we play in the semis."


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