Highlanders has launched a furious attack on heavy-handed members of the ZRP who rushed to discharge tear smoke in attempts to control a section of football fans who invaded the pitch at Mandava Stadium Saturday leading to the abandonment of a premier soccer league match between hosts FC Platinum and the club.
A section of fans who were not happy with a penalty awarded to FC Platinum with eight minutes of play left invaded the pitch while threatening some match officials.
The incident led to a lengthy stoppage of the tie which was later abandoned.
The two teams were then tied on 1-1.
However, police have come in for strong criticism by Highlanders who felt the crisis could have been handled in a gentler manner that did not affect players, officials and other innocent fans.
READ HIGHLANDERS FULL STATEMENT BELOW
Highlanders Football Club would like to condemn in strongest sense, the conduct of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Officers who were entrusted with the responsibility to provide security during a Premier Soccer League match between FC Platinum and Highlanders at Mandava Stadium on Saturday.
The club understands ZRP to be a stakeholder of the game whose mandate is to provide security for players, officials and the fans.
The violent and thuggish behaviour by ZRP towards fans and players cannot be tolerated as it brings our football into disrepute.
Whilst the club does not condone pitch invasion and missile throwing by a section of the football fans, it was unnecessary for the ZRP to throw tear smoke towards fans as this behaviour ended up affecting players, officials and some innocent fans.
The act was against the basic principles of crowd management and as a result, the victims were players and officials who ZRP purported to protect.
As if that was not enough, ZRP further went on a rampage, assaulting innocent fans outside the stadium and in some instances, beating vehicles they perceived to be belonging to, and ferrying Highlanders fans.
The club takes this opportunity to assure its members, fans and other stakeholders of its commitment to its values of Ubuntu, which encompasses such ethics as respect for self and respect for others, hence further commitment to engage all other stakeholders, ZRP included, in trying to bring an end to hooliganism and violence in the stadia.
We further take this opportunity to empathise with all the innocent victims of yesterday’s acts of violence and condemn few individuals who were involved in the acts of pitch invasion and missile throwing.