SA Premier League promises increased security following fan violence

Irvin Khoza
Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza has promised to beef up security at domestic league and cup matches in South Africa

South Africa's Premier Soccer League moved quickly to promise increased security at domestic matches, following the violent scenes which marked the end of Saturday's FA Cup semi-final between Kaizer Chiefs and Free State Stars.

Fans of the Chiefs, the country's most popular club, ran amok after they lost 2-0 to their unfashionable opponents.

At least 18 people were injured, including a security guard who was brutally assaulted in full view of the main stand at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium.

There was an estimated US$800,000 worth of damage caused by a spree of wanton destruction - much of it captured on film.

On Monday, Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza - at a hastily called news conference in Johannesburg - promised to beef up security in the future, ensure better trained security personnel, and increase their security budget.

"The league is extremely shocked at the violence that took place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. I want to make it clear that there is no place for violence in our stadiums and society," Khoza said.

"The league takes its responsibilities to secure the safety of the fans, players and officials very seriously. There will be a thorough investigation. We also note the trend of increasing violence at stadiums," he added.

The violence on Saturday played out on television until the feed was broken by vandals, who ran onto the field.

They broke television cameras, audio equipment and advertising hoardings, pulled up power cables and even set fire to a small section of seats in the stands.

Police and other security personnel were overrun by the post-match invasion as angry Chiefs supporters swarmed onto the field, trying to get at their coach Steve Komphela, who has been under fire for months after going through a third season without any trophy success.

He quit immediately after the match saying he did not want to be the reason for rioting at games.

Irvin Khoza says fans who attend matches need to be reminded of their responsibility at grounds.

"The league held a meeting and noted the increasing criminality, especially at highly supported matches - and a strong message must be sent to deal with this trend. It cannot be allowed to continue.

"Supporters have to manage their expectations. No club goes there intending to lose.

"You can't use violence as a means to show your frustration and the clubs cannot solely be held responsible. Fans need to use other means to raise their concerns, not violence."

The country's new sports minister Tokozile Xasa led the condemnation of the violence at the iconic Durban venue, built specifically for the 2010 World Cup.

"We can't wait for another person to die before we act. How did supporters manage to storm the ground and endanger people's lives? Football is a beautiful game and I can't idle while few supporters are making a skunk of our game," she said.

There were similar incidents last year when Khoza's own club Orlando Pirates were beaten 6-0 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria by Mamelodi Sundowns and Pirates' fans also ran amok.

Last week, some 13 months after the incident, Pirates were finally punished and will play their next home league game against Bidvest Wits at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Wednesday behind closed doors.

It has been criticised as ineffective punishment.

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