The judgement summary dated 03 September 2010, of the Ad Hoc Committee chaired by Mr. Don Moyo and comprising Mr Brighton Mudzamiri and Mr Cuthbert Chitima, over the Highlanders Football Club and Dynamos Football Club BancABC Cup semi-final played at Barbourfields on the 21st of August 2010, were based on their investigation from: (a) the referee’s report (b) Highlanders’s report (c) Dynamos’s report (d) Police report by the Officer In Charge (ZRP Njube ) (e) a DVD for the match.
a) The Referee‘s Report Summary.
The referee said Highlanders FC were awarded a penalty in the 70 minute, Dynamos players walked off summoned by their coach Elvis Chiweshe and team manager Nyika Chifamba and remained off the pitch for 35 minutes. In the 81st minute Highlanders players protested a penalty awarded to Dynamos and were called off the pitch by their technical manager M. Fathi and remained in their dressing room for 28 minutes after which Highlanders came back and the referee called both captains and advised them that due to bad light it was no longer possible to continue with the game.
b) The Highlanders Report Summary.
Highlanders’s report highlighted Washington Arubi and Ashley Rambanepasi’s conduct, their supporters would not have thrown missiles into the field of play. They further argued that by leaving the field of play after they had been awarded a penalty Dynamos automatically disqualified themselves in terms of the rules of the cup competition. They stressed their walkout they stressed had no bearing on the game as the match was no longer a competitive match but a social one. They also found fault with the way the referee handled the match.
c) Dynamos Report Summary.
Dynamos defended their walkout stating that their players queried the referee’s decision in awarding Bosso the 70th minute penalty. Highlanders supporters started throwing missiles onto the pitch resulting in one of their players being struck by a missile. They walked off the pitch for the safety of their players, and when they were ready to play, the referee and Highlanders captain said they could not citing bad light. They also found fault with the way the referee handled the match.
d) Police Report.
The police report which in all respects corroborates the video evidence was also a useful piece of independent evidence. It talks of the raining of missiles after Dynamos disputed the 70th minute penalty awarded to Highlanders and their increase when Ashley Rambanepasi threw back one of the missiles though the missile landed within the ground.
It further states that their action was loudly supported by their fans and those on the Soweto stands again started throwing missiles into the ground. The fans were urging Highlanders to abandon the match. According to the report the Highlanders fans were now doing everything possible to ensure that the match was permanently abandoned. This piece of evidence is even corroborated by the Highlanders report where they state that their own fans were threatening them not to continue with the match and actually blocked the tunnel for them not to enter the field of play.
e) Video Evidence.
Video evidence was the most independent the committee had and ultimately assisted them to a great extent in coming up with their findings. The committee observed a spirited effort by the Highlanders Chairman, T. Ndhlela, team manager D. Mloyi and team secretary A. Tapela to persuade the Highlanders players to continue with the match there was an equally spirited effort by the Highlanders coach M. Fathi to dissuade the players from continuing.
The coach was the first one to enter the field of play and appeared to be physically moving the players off the pitch. Eventually Highlanders walked off the pitch. When they returned after 28 minutes the referee called off the match. In the intervening period police were having running battles with Highlanders supporters and eventually had to summon a water cannon vehicle to disperse the rowdy crowd.
Findings, and I quote:
“The above is the evidence that was before us. As already indicated our mandate is to investigate the cause(s) leading to the abandonment of the match and thereafter come up with a decision on the way forward. Our first finding was that the match was abandoned in the 81st minute of play. The referee called off the match because of bad light. Highlanders aver that in terms of the rules of the competition, particularly rule 5.6 the match was over and abandoned when Dynamos refused to play and left the stadium before the end of the match when protesting the 70th minute penalty awarded against them. We hold a different view. We consider this to be a stoppage of a match, which stoppage was no equivalent to an abandonment.
We are fortified in this view because when Dynamos trooped back onto the pitch, the referee resumed play and continued with it. In terms of the laws of the game the referee is the man in charge and if he continues with the game, it can not be alleged, as Highlanders does, that the game had been abandoned. Interpretation of rule 5.6 in our view is that as long as play resumed and continued after the 70th minute, Dynamos’s act of leaving the field can not be classified as leaving the stadium before the end of the match or refusing to play. Highlanders are therefore incorrect to hold the view that after resumption of the match in the 71st minute the game was now a social match and had been abandoned.
It is common cause that there were two walkouts involving both Dynamos and Highlanders. We now turn to look at the reasons proffered by both clubs for so doing and if there is any supporting evidence to that end.
The reason given by Dynamos is that of safety of their players. It can not be disputed that missiles were raining onto the pitch and that one of their players was stretchered off the pitch after being struck by a missile. We make a finding that because of threat to their safety Dynamos walked off the pitch.
The reason advanced by Highlanders that the match had ceased to be a competitive match, was now a social match and was now null and void has already been addressed earlier on in this judgement.
As to the point of which they themselves walked off the pitch they blame poor refereeing and because of poor refereeing their fans were incensed, started throwing missiles onto the pitch and threatened them and made it impossible to continue with the game. The fans even blocked the tunnel. We make a finding that Highlanders supporters and Highlanders coach were responsible for Highlanders leaving the field of play.
What emerges as a common factor in both walkouts by Dynamos and Highlanders respectively is the role played by Highlanders supporters. Their role sticks out ugly. We accept as a fact that for their safety Dynamos walked off the pitch. Highlanders on their own part were threatened by their own supporters not to continue with the match. In fact the supporters by raining missiles onto the pitch made it virtually impossible to continue. As a direct result of the supporters’s actions and unruly behaviour the referee called off the match as it was dark to continue. Time had been lost in between the two walk outs by the respective teams.
In view of the above finding of fact what then is the legal position? The legal position is that in terms of the Premier Soccer League rules and regulations, rule 17.4 thereof the home team shall be responsible for the behaviour of its spectators, BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER the match until the stadium is cleared of all persons. In the circumstances we find Highlanders responsible for the unsporting, rowdy and riotous behaviour of its supporters as Highlanders were the home team. Ultimately we find Highlanders responsible for the abandonment of the match. In terms of the rules of the competition, rule 4.1.1 on entering the competition clubs and their players and officials automatically undertake to observe and comply with FIFA, ZIFA and PSL statutes, regulations, directives, circulars, guidelines, decision as well as national and international laws.
The committee is very much alive to the various acts and unsporting behaviour by various individuals from Dynamos and Highlanders. In this respect it is pertinent that we mention Ashley Rambanepasi, Elvis Chiweshe, Nyika Chifamba and M. Fathi and recommend that disciplinary action be taken against them for their various roles in the stoppages involved in the match. We also recommend that for their walkouts the two clubs be also brought for a hearing. We feel we have to single out and commend the Highlanders Chairman Mr. T. Ndhlela, the team Manager D. Mloyi and Secretary A. Tapela for the manner they conducted themselves in the ongoing melee. They are true ambassadors of football.
We further emphasise that nowhere in the world are supporters allowed to determine the fate and destiny of a match by their conduct save obviously in a situation where they are cheering their team vociferously. If the referee has a poor day at the office, as in casu, these are matters to be dealt with in a different forum. Decisions regarding facts connected with play are the referee’s domain and such decisions are final. However we strongly urge the PSL to write to the referee’s committee with a view to addressing the poor standard of officiating.
Having made the finding that Highlanders were responsible for the abandonment of the match we pronounce and declare that the match in which Highlanders took part as lost by the club concerned and won by Dynamos on a 3 –0 scoreline as per the rules.”