Editorial: Tighten security to stop invasions

There are few things more unpalatable than seeing fans turning their passion for their chosen sport into acts of hooliganism and destruction when a game does not go their way.

Bad sportsmanship of this kind invariably leads to retaliation from the opposing side, resulting in mayhem.

This is exactly what happened at Loftus Versfeld at the weekend, when ugly scenes played out towards the end of the game between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates.

Some 100 to 150 Pirates fans stormed the pitch after Sundowns’ Percy Tau scored a sixth unanswered goal, sending players and coaching staff scuttling for safety, before Sundowns supporters also took to the pitch and the punches began to fly.

Stadium property was damaged and several people were injured.

The PSL security officials were clearly overwhelmed, not to mention outnumbered, and an SA Police Services armoured vehicle drove onto the pitch in a bid to quell the chaos.

Teargas and stun grenades were fired, and even though the situation only lasted about 10 minutes, it was enough to make lovers of the game hang their heads in shame.

It’s not the first time that soccer, a game so loved by millions of South Africans, has been tarnished in this way.

Who can forget that terrible incident in our own city in 2015, when a policeman accidentally shot and killed a Kaizer Chiefs supporter as fans invaded the pitch after Chiefs’ 2-0 victory against Chippa United?

We can only be grateful that Saturday’s incident did not end in similar tragedy.

There is simply no room for pitch invasions, whether they occur in celebration or because fans feel aggrieved by the outcome of a game.

Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza, likely deeply embarrassed at this point, condemned the violence and vowed yesterday that his team would give their highest priority to cooperating so the law could take its course.

The image of the PSL has certainly been sullied and strong action is needed on its part. There has to be a full investigation into this unsavoury incident, with plans put in place so it does not happen again.

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