Football fraternity needs to conquer its demons

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Mikia Kalati

THE 2016/17 premier league soccer season was thrown into further turmoil on Sunday after another high profile encounter between LDF against Bantu at Ratjomose Barracks had to be called-off following a bitter brawl between the players of the two teams.

It all started two months ago when a group of Bantu supporters assaulted match commissioner Moeketsi Moholobela after their team’s 0-1 loss to Kick4Life and a fortnight ago, Matlama supporters invaded the pitch at Setsoto Stadium in a match in which their team was trailing 1-2 to Lioli.

There were tragic events as a Matlama supporter was shot and subsequently died of his wounds at Tšepoeng Hospital.

I must say that this is very disturbing, more so in light of the fact that the league campaign is still in its early stages with most of the clubs having played only nine games.

And it has been a long time since we last witnessed such acts of hooliganism and violence in our football.

The easiest thing to do under such circumstances would be to point fingers at the premier league management committee (PLMC) and urge them to tighten their rules and sanctions for violence and hooliganism.

Indeed, this is a wake-up call to them that monetary fines will not suffice to deter hooliganism.

Perhaps it may be time the premier league docked points from teams found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute.

But, like I said, it is not the time for pointing fingers and playing the blame game.

The league and the clubs need to start working together to end the violence that has disrupted the league.

The league body cannot win this war on its own and as stakeholders we should all play our part in cleaning up football in the mountain Kingdom.

To be honest, I am also trying to understand where this is coming from because our football has been so peaceful over the years.

Of course, there have been incidents here and there, but it has never been this bad and recurring within a short space of time.

Can it be that the political instability has rubbed off on football matters?

That is a question for another day but this is certainly not good for our football which has been experiencing a transformation as clubs had taken major strides towards professionalism in terms of remuneration for players and technical staff.

Our league has even attracted players from as far as West Africa and other parts of the continent.

Bantu even lured James Madidilane, a former South African international who was already working in the coaching set-up at his former team Bloemfontein Celtic.

While Lioli and Bantu have been head and shoulders above the rest, big guns like Matlama and LCS are not far behind and there has also been the emergence of Kick4Life who are also doing very well on and off the field.

There are a number of companies that have entered into partnerships with our clubs and surely such incidents are damaging to their brands.

The media has also been doing their part in promoting local football, and as such, there are many reasons why the football fraternity should unite and conquer the demons that are threatening to destroy the game that we love so much.

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