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Violence scares away football fans

KAMBILIMA

Analysis: TIMOTHY KAMBILIMA
GROWING up in the soccer-crazy mining town of Chililabombwe every Sunday afternoon after church service, our parents would prepare our clothes in order to go and watch Konkola Blades Football Club playing with big teams like Power Dynamos led by Peter Kaumba and Nkana Red Devils led by Jericho Shinde, Mufurila Wanderers with Kalusha Bwalya and Ndola United lining up Kaiser Kalambo at Konkola Stadium.During those days in the early 1980s, we would see supporters drumming and singing for their teams.
This was very encouraging to the players as a morale booster. However, today things have changed. While our parents took us to the stadium, we are afraid to do so now because of the violence and insults that come from the teams’ supporters or fans.
Readers will agree with me that at nearly all football matches, we have fans that are intoxicated with alcohol and anything intoxicating.
These are the fans that end up insulting through-out the 90 minutes and beyond. Therefore, which parent would love to expose his/her children to such a hostile environment?
What will such children learn from the intimidating, threatening and insulting fans? We all go to football matches to enjoy the beautiful game and not to be lectured to old and new insults.
One wonders where these red eyed fans acquire their masters’ degree in insults and violence in football.
Why throw all sorts of objects like beer and water bottles that are dangerous at players, match official and fellow fans?
Football should be a unifying factor for all Zambians and not a tool to divide us.
Imagine punching your own brother for merely celebrating a goal by his team! Instead of insulting or beating your fellow supporter, why can’t one just encourage the team to work hard?
I know how painful it is to stomach poor performance by our various teams, but resorting to insults or violence is no solution at all.
In the past, the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has tried to chop off the ugly face of violence at various stadia, but more should be done by club executives in collaboration with fan clubs.
These can help to identify trouble-makers who can be counselled first and be suspended from the stadium for a specific number of matches in order to bring sanity.
Police officers assigned to the stadium also have a vital role to play in maintaining peace during football matches.
We expect all officers to face the fans throughout the game and not watching the game, that is the role of us the spectators. At one of the games in the past, I saw a police officer celebrating after a certain team scored.
Looking at the way the 2018 FAZ/MTN Super Division, pressure will not only be on the coaches and players but also supporters.
Resorting to insulting and fighting will not help your team win crucial games at all. We all need to co-exist regardless of the teams we support.
The author is a Luanshya based soccer fan.

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