Sadness is a natural human feeling. But for anyone who loves local football and was subjected to the ugly scenes at Mandava Stadium on Saturday, the sadness must have been profound.
Violence erupted late in the second half when referee Kuzivakwamwari Jaravaza, on the advice of his assistant Albinos Zigwati, awarded a penalty to Pure Platinum Play, after Peter Muduhwa was adjudged to have fouled Walter Musona.
At first glance, it looked like a penalty, but television replays proved otherwise—they showed that contact occurred outside the box if there was any.
As you would expect, Bosso players protested the decision, rightfully so, considering it was an incorrect call.
A section of Bosso fans responded by invading the pitch, targeting Zigwati, who had to run for dear life, as things got really bad.
The fans continued with their charge and vandalized the advertising boards on the far side. They even ignored Highlanders captain Ariel Sibanda’s plea for them to calm down and return to the stands.
The police had to react upon realizing that the situation was getting out of hand by firing teargas to disperse the crowd.
All of this happened on live camera, and ZTN commentator Howard Musonza struggled to put the situation into words.
That was a terrible trailer for a game that is already dead and seeking a miraculous resurrection.
The worst part is that it’s not only fans who failed to respect the referee’s decision, even though it was not the correct one. Highlanders players were repeatedly told to return to the field of play but refused to do so.
Muduhwa even went to sit on the bench and ignored the fourth official’s plea for them to return to the field so that the penalty could be taken.
Not to condone the referee’s decision, it was wrong. But the Highlanders fans and players were also wrong before the police made things worse.
We have seen on countless occasions referees making mistakes which proved to be decisive, but the reaction was bad.
It wouldn’t have been the first, nor would it have been the last time that an official’s mistake decided a football.
Highlanders themselves have benefited from refereeing mistakes on numerous occasions, but that is a story for another day.
The police ought to have handled the chaos better as well when the chaos erupted in the mining town of Zvishavane.
Two wrongs don’t make a right- the fans were wrong, and so were the police but unfortunately- once again and probably not for the last time, it’s the image of the game which suffers.