I watched in horror on television as SC Villa fans vandalised St Mary’s Stadium in Kitende last Saturday moments after losing 1-0 to Vipers.
It was a throwback to the darkest years of Ugandan football when hooligans owned headlines and competed for the limelight with players like Fred Tamale, Livingstone Mbabazi and Edgar Watson.
TV footage clearly captured goons executing their madness in wanton fashion with the nauseatingly gleeful attitude of ‘What can you do to us?’. For the federation and Uganda Premier League (UPL), their investigation into the madness will be ably helped by a video of the game. On Monday, Vipers president Lawrence Mulindwa unsurprisingly expressed his displeasure in the strongest possible terms before a packed press conference and vowed to bring the culprits to book.
Two days later SC Villa president Ben Immanuel Misagga penned a missive that did not condone the wrong behaviour but blamed the security, or lack thereof.
Ultimately there were no winners, which is always the case whenever there is violence.
St Mary’s Stadium was left with broken barriers, a messed toilet system, vandalised gates and an unknown bill for repairs.
Villa on other hand left with a reputation tainted for the umpteenth time and with sponsors StarTimes threatening to pull out.
But if Fufa is to put a stop to such despicable behaviour in future, the solution is to hurt the club where it hurts most – a points penalty.
Right now, hoodlums can act with impunity because there are precedents of the getting away with unruliness.
Fining a club a million shillings or two is allowing culprits to get away scot free.
Besides it leaves a situation where violence will be perpetuated – for a fee. Such a punishment would do little to dissuade thugs, especially when you consider that that fine wouldn’t be settled from their pockets.
Yet if you docked a club two or three points depending on the gravity of the violence (after investigations of course), it is likely that the consequence would be felt by every individual and stakeholder of the said team.
Hooliganism is not a matter to be handled with kid gloves.
There has been good progress in the league with increased sponsorship, steps towards professionalism and new stadia in the topflight.
It would be suicidal to sweep last Saturday’s nonsensical behaviour under the carpet with a let-off reprimand of the guilty parties, be it individuals or club.
Fufa must take stern punitive measures to send out a statement to all brutes seeking cheap fame in the Uganda Premier League.
A lot stands to be lost if hooliganism is allowed to rear its ugly head in Ugandan football.
The sight of bottled urine being hurled in the direction of fans who paid their money to watch a game of football is one that should never happen again.
This is not time for rhetoric. The authorities must lay a marker to protect, defend and uphold the sanity of Ugandan football.
As I penned this column, Express FC was languishing at the bottom of the Uganda Premier League.
Once Uganda’s best club, the 1995 Africa Club Champions semi-finalists are now a laughing stock.
The management is in disarray and no one can tell where the club is headed.
The club’s chairperson Minister Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi has found out that running a football club is not choir practice.
The club recruited a number of has-beens in the transfer window and the early season form has shown that the Red Eagles did bad business during the off-season.
Slowly but surely the era when VEK was an all-powerful, all-conquering brand is dying.
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