The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The PSL has certainly changed over the years. They have managed to secure a great sponsorship deal with a large corporate which has elevated the profile of the league significantly. A TV deal has been signed which ensures that the majority of games are broadcast to not only a South African audience, but to a wider African viewership.
Unfortunately, the one element that has not changed is the impact of violence in the local game. The latest incidences have come courtesy of a certain section of Mamelodi Sundowns “fans”.
Following the latest defeat, a 2-0 loss to Moroka Swallows, a section of Sundowns supporters made their way onto the pitch and started chanting that the coach must go. The worrying point to note is that the police failed in their attempts to restrain the fans, which made for disturbing scenes.
Orlando Pirates also had issues with unruly fans following the team’s 3-0 reversal against Supersport United in August this year. Supporters reacted angrily following the ejection of Pirates’ player, Benni McCarthy late in the first half of the game.
Admittedly, Sundowns have had a very poor start to the current campaign – they currently sit third from bottom in the PSL log and have a solitary win, one draw and four losses after the first six games of the season. For a club that has huge financial resources, the on-field results are extremely disappointing but the manner of the fans’ reaction is totally over the top.
However, it appears that certain fans and supporters seem to feel that the proper manner to vent their anger is by using violence. With South Africa hosting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, this is the last thing that the country needs in advance of the tournament. South Africa successfully hosted the 2010 World Cup and a great image was portrayed showing peace loving and friendly fans. The actions of these so-called fans threatens to undo all this hard work.
The PSL appears to be taking action, albeit rather slowly. In an almost government-style response they have appointed a task team to “investigate ways of curbing the recent acts of violence”.
The PSL needs to take quick and decisive action to send out a message that violence will not be tolerated. If they do not, these scenes could become more and more frequent.