In opposition to love, appreciation and affection, the red month of February has seen football fans around the world engage in outrageous acts of hooliganism and reckless violence.
Football has a tragic history of stampedes and stadium deaths, often blamed on the lack of crowd control, dangerous venues and spectator behaviour.
South Africans on the other hand witnessed some of this violence on Saturday afternoon at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in a match which saw Orlando Pirates succumb to a 6-0 battering at the mercy of a ruthless Mamelodi Sundowns.
The unforeseen drubbing sparked rage among Pirates supporters who resorted to pitch invasion shortly after the Buccaneers conceded a sixth goal in the 82nd minute.
According to Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubele, 15 people were caught in the crossfire. Thirteen were taken to various hospitals with moderate injuries and two were treated on the scene for minor injuries.
Reports also suggested that some fans did not only vandalise property but also stole valuable digital items such as laptops and other broadcast equipment.
Addressing the media at a press conference this week, Orlando Pirates and PSL chairperson Irvin Khoza strongly condemned the behaviour, stating that violence can never be justified.
“Violence has no place in our football. No matter how strong we feel and aggrieved you are, when you engage in violence, you discredit the legitimacy of our feelings and grievances,” Khoza said.
The sea robbers (10th on the log) have been in shambles since the resignation of Muhsin Ertugral following a 6-1 walloping at the hands of SuperSport United at Lucas Moripe Stadium in November.
However, Khoza concluded the conference with a promise to Pirates’ fans that a new coach would be appointed by next week Monday to help with the progression of the club.
Elsewhere in Africa
In Angola, Santa Rita de Cassia met Recreativo de Libolo in a match that will not be forgotten in a hurry by fellow Angolans after 17 football fans lost their lives during a stampede that broke out at the entrance of the January 4 stadium in Uige, northern Angola.
Police said hundreds of fans had tried to enter the already packed stadium to see the match. Some witnesses suggest that many fans did not have tickets to the match and hence illegally forced their way into the stadium, causing mass mayhem which resulted in multiple fatalities.
At least 17 people died and at least 59 wounded.
Safa has offered their condolences to the Angolan football family after the tragedy struck.
“It is a sad day in the history of football and we would like to offer our support to the family of the victims and to the Angolan Football Association,” said Safa Media Officer, Dominic Chimhavi.
“The safety of the spectators should be of the utmost importance and we hope that other associations can take a leaf out of this and beef up security,” Chimhavi concluded.
And in Europe
Meanwhile, in Europe, German authorities on Saturday stopped two buses carrying alleged Borussia Dortmund hooligans heading to the team’s away match to Darmstadt 98. Police seized pyrotechnics, balaclavas, combat gear, drugs and painkillers on board, before ordering the hooligans back to North Rhine-Westphalia.
Dortmund supporters have been under increased surveillance after violence erupted on February 4 ahead of BVB’s home game against recently promoted RasenBallsport Liepzig where a group of hardcore Dortmund “ultras” threw stones, bottles and beer cans at groups of opposition fans, including children, women and families.
The German football federation, DFB demanded on February 10 that Dortmund’s famous “Yellow Wall” – the 25 000 capacity south terrace which is home to Dortmund’s most hardcore fans – be closed for one league game.
Dortmund has accepted the punishment and the club has added that they would refund South Stand ticket holders for the Wolfsburg match, provided they were not involved in any of the unrest against Leipzig and fans who have bought one-off South Stand ticket for this weekend will be offered replacements for the final Bundesliga home match of the season versus Werder Bremen.
And across the Atlantic
In South America, rubber bullets and tear gas was required to calm an incident which saw a total of eight people hospitalised on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.
Violence erupted in the streets around Engenhao Stadium before the kickoff of a match between Flamengo and Botafogo.
“The municipal health secretariat informs that eight men were taken to the Salgado Filho Municipal Hospital as victims of the violence or gunshots in clashes near the Engenhao,” the secretariat said.
“Of these, one died, four were released and three are still being attended to, one of whom is in a serious condition.”