Zimbabwe derby sparks social media rows

Zimbabwe derby sparks
social media rows

  The Highlanders-Dynamos fixture has a history of crowd trouble

Officials argue at Barbourfields stadium

Football fans disagreeing with the referee's decisions is nothing new. But supporters making it impossible for the referee to do his job is something else. Zimbabwean football fans have taken to social media to vent their spleen following the abandonment of the country's biggest derby on Sunday. There was plenty of confusion and a smattering of anger when the Premier League match between Highlanders and Dynamos, the most famous and successful clubs, was called off just before the break.

The match commissioner took the decision with the score at 1-1 as he feared for the safety of one of the assistant referees at a packed Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo. In yet another incident that raised questions on issues of crowd control, Highlanders fans furious with the Dynamos equalizer hurled abuse and started throwing objects at assistant referee Thomas Kusosa, accusing him of allowing an "off side" goal to stand. Disturbances went on for an hour as fans and Highlanders players demanded that the assistant referee be replaced.

"I guess that we should have accepted that the referee has the final say, but we are a mixed multitude, and not all of our supporters will accept such a decision," said Highlanders chairman Modern Ngwenya.Highlanders v DynamosFootball fans have been arguing on social media about the abandoned game. Zimbabwe's biggest derby has a history of crowd trouble but anti-violence banners at the stadium and pleas before the match for supporters to remain calm were of little benefit. Eddie Chivero, the president of the Zimbabwe Soccer Supporters Association, feels that CCTV cameras are needed to monitor and identify troublemakers.

"We condemn violence in our football, but there is no way that we are going to identify the culprits unless we have CCTV cameras in our stadiums," said Chivero. "It's supposed to be priority number one, and stadiums without CCTV should not be allowed to host matches. None of Zimbabwe's stadiums has cameras in the stands, and the authorities are unlikely to make it happen for a while.

Chuck Reynolds
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