Ugandan Football: Hooliganism Has to Stop
When Vipers FC midfielder Tadeo Lwanga fouled SC Villa defender-cum-midfielder Nicholas Kasozi during last Sunday’s Stanbic Uganda Cup semi-finals, first leg match pitting the two perennial rivals, centre referee William Oloya cautioned him for the nasty tackle.
A section of SC Villa fans responded hurling missiles at Lwanga, who had to be restrained from being attacked physically by the angry Jogoo players for the unsporting act prompting police to fire in the air to restore sanity.
Their actions also forced the referee to temporarily stop the match with seven minutes to the end of the first half as Vipers technical bench complained of objects being thrown into their direction.
It was like a throwback to the nineties when Villa fans were notorious for such decadent behavior and what’s worse; this commotion caused a fifteen minutes delay before the restart.
As if that wasn’t enough, Jogoo fans blocked players and officials of either side from using the tunnel to the dressing rooms as they threw objects to them.
In between the fracas Vipers’ head coach Da Costa suffered chest and head injuries from the thrown objects and he was rushed to hospital.
The second half was played under tensions and the game ended with live bullets, tear gas canisters were fired in the air to disperse the fans who had started throwing stones before total calmness was secured with players having to be escorted out of the pitch by police.
With the incident not being the first for Villa, where previously they have been punished by league authorities through deductions points coupled with hefty fines, do they ever learn?
Gone are the days, when fans meted out justice on any controversial decision in the form of stones, pitch invasion and running battles with police. Also gone are the days when SC Villa received preferential treatment because of its status.
They should borrow a leaf from Express FC fans who for a number of years now they have been one of the best behaved sides in the League.
UPL organization also came into sharp focus. To say security was lax was an understatement given that it was a high profile match followed by fans across the country. They must up their game and ensure that there is adequate security to protect the referees, fans and players.
They must also take stern action against SC Villa. They are not first offenders and they should certainly throw the book at them.
A suspended fine will not do this time, playing behind closed doors and even fans being prosecuted for assault should be considered.
UPL must stamp its authority and bring an end to football hooliganism if it wants to grow the sport in this country.
This will send the perfect signal.
That violence will not be condoned. It also help the Villa administration grasp the seriousness of the issue and treat it as such because not all Villa fans threw stones. Just a few misguided fans who have refused to move with the times.
Featured Photo: Peaceful SC Villa fans during a past match: Not all SC Villa fans throw stones(Credit: Exclusive Media)
Additional information: Victor Akatwijuka