Yadah Football Club has requested a change of venue for its match against Highlanders Football Club from Barbourfields Stadium citing concerns about the security situation in Bulawayo.
The club said it is hesitant to travel there due to recent incidents where Highlanders supporters threw objects and invaded the pitch during a match against Dynamos Football Club, resulting in abandonment.
Yadah believes that their players, officials, and supporters may be at risk in such an environment. As a result, they have formally requested a change of venue for the match, suggesting Bata Stadium in Gweru as an alternative.
In their letter to the Premier Soccer League, Yadah’s lawyers argued that the referees might face pressure from Highlanders supporters, potentially affecting their impartiality. Said the club’s lawyers:
In light of these circumstances, our client, Yadah FC, is of the firm view that the safety and well-being of its fans, players, and officials as well as other stakeholders which is of paramount importance have since been compromised in the wake of its impending fixture against Highlanders.
Consequent to these unfortunate events, our client is of the firm belief that it will be extremely challenging for it to receive fair treatment from the match officials.
The psychological impact of the violence, coupled with the lack of accountability for those responsible, casts a shadow of doubt on the objectivity and impartiality of the officiating team that will be in charge of the match in circumstances where the Highlanders fans will be in attendance.
This situation greatly undermines the principles of fair play and jeopardises the integrity of the game.
Our client anticipates that its players will be inhibited from performing to their full potential due to the fear of incensing Highlanders FC supporters. This fear could lead to a detrimental effect on their performance, resulting in an unfair competition, where the principle of fair play cannot be achieved.
All the circumstances considered, particularly the volatile and unsafe environment as well as the potential risks involved, we are instructed to request for a change of venue and subsequently propose an alternative solution for the upcoming match against Highlanders FC, which is likely to be played before the prevailing situation stabilises.
We are instructed to formally request, as we hereby do, for a change of venue for the aforementioned match from Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo to Bata Stadium in Gweru or any other neutral venue which is located outside the City of Bulawayo.
Yadah said they had also notified the Sports and Recreation Commission about the issue.
The Zimbabwe Republic Police has arrested 12 individuals believed to be connected to the violence at Barbourfields Stadium.
Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi, the national police spokesman, confirmed the arrests and stated that two suspects were charged with violating the Firearms Act, four with criminal nuisance, and six with public violence.
Nyathi assured the public that comprehensive investigations are ongoing to hold all involved individuals accountable.
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