CAPE TOWN - Kaizer Chiefs finally commented formally on Monday morning on the mayhem that happened after their Nedbank Cup semi-final defeat to Free State Stars, saying that “venting frustration through rampant thuggery is totally unacceptable”.
The Amakhosi have been heavily criticised on social media platforms for failing to produce a statement on the violence that resulted in 18 people being injured and players running off the field following a pitch invasion at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday night, after Chiefs lost 2-0 to Free State Stars.
Spectators went on the rampage, ripping out seats, setting fires in the stands, damaging TV cameras and other equipment, and also attacking security guards. The security cordon in the tunnel was also broken, which saw a live TV interview interrupted.
This comes just a few weeks after Chiefs fans also protested by throwing objects at the players and coaches when the team lost 3-0 to Chippa United at the FNB Stadium on April 7.
The Premier Soccer League (PSL) found the club guilty last week of failing to provide adequate security at the match, and fined them R250 000, of which R200 000 was suspended for 24 months.
In a statement entitled “Chairman denounces fan violence” – referring to club boss Kaizer Motaung – Chiefs said on Monday that the Moses Mabhida Stadium incident “reflects very badly on our people and our country when the footage is disseminated across the world”.
Frustrated Amakhosi fans got their wish as coach Steve Komphela announced his resignation at the post-match press conference after failing to win any major silverware in his nearly two-and-a-half years at the club.
“Kaizer Chiefs condemns the unruly scenes of violence that took place on Saturday evening in the strongest possible terms during the Nedbank Cup semifinal match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium,” the statement started.
“We appeal to those people involved in the deplorable episode who claim to be our fans to stop this hooliganism immediately. Incidents like those that were witnessed have no place anywhere in our society, least of all football.
“Acts of this nature endanger the lives of innocent people and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. We shall co-operate fully with law enforcement agencies and the PSL to ensure the perpetrators are brought to book.
“Such behaviour goes against the very ethos of what Amakhosi stands for, which is Love and Peace.”
The club said that they understood that their fans had had enough of the poor showings on Komphela’s watch, after the former Bafana Bafana captain took over from Stuart Baxter.
The Scotsman, who is the current Bafana coach, won two league titles during his time in charge of Chiefs.
But the club slammed the fans for the way in which they went about expressing their anger.
“We understand the passion our fans have for the team and appreciate their sense of disappointment when results don’t go as expected. We share it too.
“Everybody at the club is working to the best of their ability to bring success on the field and joy to the fans. Sometimes though, despite the best efforts of everyone, things don’t fall seamlessly into place.
“It is very difficult to always achieve the perfect combination. It is the nature of sport that nobody wins all the time, and accepting defeat graciously with dignity is one of the principles that underpin the virtue of sportsmanship.
“We pride ourselves on having knowledgeable fans, and we respect their right to express their dissatisfaction with the team’s performance.
“However, venting frustration through rampant thuggery is totally unacceptable.
“It besmirches the reputation of the club and the millions of well-mannered supporters who make up the Kaizer Chiefs Family; it brings the game of football itself into disrepute and on a wider scale, it reflects very badly on our people and our country when the footage is disseminated across the world.”
PSL chairman Dr Irvin Khoza will hold a press conference at 12.30pm on Monday, where he is expected to speak on the matter.
Chiefs have called on their fans to pull together going forward. Their next match is on Tuesday against Golden Arrows at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu (7.30pm kickoff).
“The key tenet of loyalty is showing unity and standing together in solidarity when the going gets tough. The support of fans has a tremendously positive effect in boosting the confidence of the players, particularly during a slump.
“Some of the world’s greatest clubs have endured lean spells during which silverware has temporarily dried up but they have come back stronger than ever.
“We need everybody pulling in the same direction and we therefore implore all of our supporters to calm down and get behind the team for the next three matches of the season.
“Once again, Kaizer Chiefs does not condone any acts of violence.”