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Hooligans should bear the brunt individually

The events of the past few weeks involving SC Villa mirror a 1985 scenario that involved Express FC. At one stage last month, Villa seemed destined for a first league title since 2004 but lack of discipline and self-destruction contrived to deny them what would have been a worthy triumph.

Back in May 1985, Express topped the league standings ahead of their crunch tie with Villa. The Red Eagles were the only unbeaten side in the league at that time and for one, David Dronyi, their goalkeeper, had not conceded a goal in 18 matches dating back into the 1984 season.

Indications pointed to a close contest at Nakivubo but what transpired on the pitch changed the course of the Red Eagles. Like Villa today, Express FC were aiming for first league crown after several years of near misses and a feeling of entitlement grew among the club faithful, especially looking at how Villa had become the dominant side almost from nowhere.

Vipers sports club president Lawrence Mulindwa showing journalists the extent of the damage 

As fate would have it, Villa’s Geoffrey Higenyi opened the scoring after just five minutes to dampen the mood for Express. However, Phillip Musoke equalized for Express just before half time but Sunday Mokiri got the Jogoos back in front.

Tempers were heated and the turning point came when referee John Musanyana cancelled Issa Sekatawa’s would-be equalizer for Express. Any familiarities with the Vipers-Villa first round match?

The decision sparked off an unprecedented wave of violence and hooliganism left many injured but surprisingly, the Express hierarchy didn’t condone the violence. In fact, Kezekiah Segwanga Musisi, went ahead to blame poor officiating for the violence. Fufa, meanwhile, just folded arms and didn’t intervene. Yet again, this coincides with Vipers-Villa game.

The defeat disoriented Express so much so that they lost the next two games to Airlines FC and, later, KCC. From then on, Express fans, fearing they may throw away the title, resorted to mocking rival contenders.

In one particular game between KCC and Nsambya, Express ultras led by Haruna ‘Scooter’ Mawanda supported the latter and when KCC won the game 1-0, they attacked KCC fans, culminating in bloodshed that left many injured.

Yet again, Fufa was reluctant to react. It took a stern warning from Masette Kuuya, the then National Council of Sports chairman, to pump sense in stakeholders. He threatened to punish Fufa’s incompetence as well as banning Express. Thereafter, Fufa reluctantly banned Mawanda and his co-ringleader Bruhan Musisi from attending any football matches.

In the end, KCC grabbed the title on the last day of the season, leaving the Express faithful crestfallen. Coincidentally, Villa too threw away the title after a dramatic collapse in the final five matches.

What is fundamental in the two situations is that violence has no place in football and can only serve to make losers on the pitch feel witch-hunted. It is worth noting that in Villa’s dominant years, it was always the victim of provocation from rival sides. In fact, it was KCC and Express that used to fight Villa.

So, when it comes to handling situations of violence and hooliganism, Fufa has to take the lead. However, it is quite unfathomable that the federation turned a blind eye to individuals that vandalized Vipers’ St Mary’s stadium. Had those individuals not walked away scot-free, it would have sent a tough message to everyone before he picks up a stone to throw into the pitch. 

So, I agree with Vipers that it is within their powers to ban the Villa fans even though they at least needed to work with Fufa to impose the sanction.

KCC showed how it is done in 2015 when the club banned troublemakers disguised as fans. Villa should also take the stand.

bzziwa@observer.ug

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