Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A section of Star Times Uganda Premier League clubs have questioned FUFA’s decision to punish clubs for the hooliganism of their fans. This stems from the recent decision by the local federation to sanction clubs in a bid to stem the growing cases of hooliganism in Ugandan football. FUFA has so far sanctioned SC Villa and Busoga United over the hooliganism involving their fans.
On November 17th, 2022, the Premier League match between SC Villa and Wakiso Giants was marred with violence from SC Villa fans who threw objects like stones and poured urine on match officials. After investigations, FUFA decided to deduct two points and two goals from SC Villa and ordered the club to host its next five home matches in a neutral stadium outside the jurisdiction of the Fufa Regional Football Associations of Kampala, Buganda, and Eastern, among other sanctions.
A few days later, the FUFA Disciplinary panel penalized Busoga United for failing to control their boisterous fans during their 1-0 loss to Express FC. The enraged spectators hurled stones at Express players and the match officials, protesting what they saw as biased officiating. This prompted the match officials to call off the game.
In FUFA’s ruling, Busoga United lost the game by forfeiture. The Federation went ahead to deduct three points and three goals from the club and tasked management to host their next home games in a stadium outside the Eastern region behind closed doors.
This was however a continuation of the long-standing pattern of stadium brawls amongst fans that have long defined the Uganda Premier League. Last season, police used teargas to disperse the supporters of Onduparaka FC during their encounter with their home rivals, Arua Hill FC. Speaking to URN, some club administrators revealed that while they condemn hooliganism in stadia, they disagree with FUFA’s decision to sanction clubs.
They want FUFA to find new ways to combat the threat rather than mating double punishment on clubs that are sometimes innocent in such cases. Ashraf Miiro, the Chief Executive Officer of UPDF FC told URN that he would have no problem with punishing clubs that engage in hooliganism but forcing these clubs to host their home games away from home has an adverse effect even on the most innocent clubs.
He explains that his team had budgeted to visit SC Villa in Wankulukuku, but they will be compelled to incur additional costs when they travel to Lira for their tie.
Mathias Muwanga, the CEO of Bright Stars also told URN that clubs may not be able to identify hooligans, therefore FUFA should work hand in hand with particular clubs so that they can pick the hooligans and punish them individually other than punishing the entire club.
“Sometimes it’s beyond the club because this thing needs a lot of investigations, which has to be done between the two parties, FUFA, and the club. I would say we need to work together to make thorough investigations and involve authorities and identify the ringleaders of these hooligans and punish them and then burn them from the stadium,” Muwanga said
He said what FUFA is doing to punish the clubs leaves fans at liberty to continue misbehaving because they know nothing will happen to them. “After punishing a club and asking them to take games somewhere else, the team is going to suffer and feel the pain, have the fans felt the pain? Have you stopped the act? So in my sense, we need to go direct to the people doing this,” he added. He said sanctioning and fining will bring pain to the club and in the long run affect their morale.
Ahmed Kongola, the CEO of Kyetume FC said that Clubs work so hard to accumulate points over time and that a decision to dock them once strikes them tremendously. He argues that teams do not have complete control over, which fans enter stadia and that many fans come with varying intents, some of which are to harm the clubs they purport to support.
Bernard Bainamani, the CEO of Uganda Premier League said there is a need to sensitize fans on how to support football peacefully and this is supposed to start with the clubs. Bainamani believes that each of the Premier League clubs knows at least a number of their fans who cause chaos in stadia and should assist the league organizers in identifying them.