Crowd trouble spoils Gor’s party on the KPL summit
In the 2016 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) season, the then Gor Mahia coach Marcelo ‘Ze maria’ Ferreira said the wheels came off the their speeding bus to the title when they were docked three points for crowd trouble.
Gor lost three points after Football Kenya Federation (FKF) found them guilty of crowd trouble in a match against Tusker FC after fans bitterly protested a penalty awarded to their opponents. It was a double loss for Gor as they lost the match 1-0 and a further three points for the crowd trouble. This was the first of two cases where FKF flexed their muscle in their new zero tolerance on hooliganism policy.
Fast forward to 2017 season June 2 in Kisumu and Gor are cruising to a 2-0 win in the 74th minute against Ulinzi Stars. Then red Hot Stephen Waruru struck twice. In the 74th minute and in the 89th minute to level the scores at 2-2.
Waruru celebrated his second goal by removing his shirt and displaying it in front of K’Ogalo fans, copying what Lionel Messi did after his late winner for Barcelona FC against Real Madrid in the classicco match in the Spanish La Liga. The fans’ reaction was a few missiles thrown his way, mostly cigarette lighters and coins, not that hit him at all.
This was the second time Messi was involved in a last gasp winner that elicited violent reactions from the fans. Still in the La Liga 2016 season in October, Messi scored a late winner from a penalty to earn Barcelona a 3-2 win. Valencia fans threw missiles as Barcelona players went to celebrate in front of them. One fan threw a full water bottle that struck three Barcelona players.
In the case of Waruru, projectiles followed him on the pitch, including stones, some that hit security officers who lobbed tear gas to disperse the fans. The game resumed ten minutes later and was played to conclusion, the teams sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw.
Ulinzi captain James Saruni defended his striker’s action after the tension packed final minutes.
“There is nothing wrong with Waruru’s celebration. You can celebrate anywhere on the pitch after scoring,” he said.
Gor coach Zedekiah ‘Zico’ Otieno heaped the blame squarely on Waruru for the fracas in the match.
“He went to celebrate in front of our fans, thus provoking them. They were ok until he went to them celebrating,” lamented Zico.
KPL is tight lipped on the incident, only promising to comment after seeing the match report that is yet to get to them.
“I’m yet to get details of what happened in Kisumu. I was not there and we can only give direction after reading the match report and getting the facts from the match referee and match commissioner,” said KPL head of security GMT Ottieno.
Waruru was sanctioned with a yellow card for his actions.
In the Barcelona case of 2016, the club complained to the La Liga FA, but The Spanish FA Competition Committee reaction was not in their favor.
“It shouldn’t go without comment that some Barcelona players behaved reproachably in their facial expressions and gestures to the crowd as they celebrated the final goal,” said their report.
In another related case of September 2009, Emmanuel Adebayor scored against his former club Arsenal in Manchester City’s 4-2 win, and went to celebrate in front of their opponents’ fans. This earned him a 3.3 million shillings fine and a two match ban for improper conduct.
The two-match ban was later suspended after Adebayor had already served a three match ban for stamping on an Arsenal player in the same game. An English FA regulatory commission said in a statement that in reaching its decision, “they took into account his (Adebayor’s) admission of the charge, public apology and the extremely provocative nature of the abuse he received.”
However, the Commission also stated that players have a responsibility to conduct themselves in a proper manner and that such celebrations are unacceptable and have the potential to cause a serious public order incident.
The KPL and FKF find themselves in a catch 22 situation as they must play by the rule boot in dealing with Waruru’s conduct as well as the Gor hooligans who threw missiles on the pitch.
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