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Game-changing case

06 July 2017 - 08:06 By Marc Strydom
The case, in relation to an incident in which Orlando Pirates fans invaded the pitch during a match against Mamelodi Sundowns in February, has been dragging on for months with no end in sight.
The case, in relation to an incident in which Orlando Pirates fans invaded the pitch during a match against Mamelodi Sundowns in February, has been dragging on for months with no end in sight.
Image: Denis Doyle

Premier Soccer League (PSL) prosecutor Nande Becker believes he has to get the Loftus Versfeld pitch invasion case absolutely right so it results in an overhaul of match security at stadiums, or "we have another Ellis Park [disaster] looming".

The case, in relation to an incident in which Orlando Pirates fans invaded the pitch during a match against Mamelodi Sundowns in February, has been dragging on for months with no end in sight.

PSL legal head Michael Murphy promised a hearing last month.

Becker said he hoped to have a hearing in about a fortnight. He, however, conceded that the importance and complexity of the case had added to the delay.

"For future crowd safety this is an absolutely, absolutely vital case. It's got to be done properly because of the precedent this case sets," Becker said.

 "I've scratched my head as to why all of a sudden there was a surge in crowd violence. You can look at the economy of the country and the politics. But we've got to do something.

"But there's also no quick-fix. So this thing had to be done properly from the word go. It's a hot potato.

"There's a much bigger picture here. I'd like to be able to take my family and go and sit there in the stands and watch football. I can't do it right now.

"And the only way that the PSL can stop it is not even from a buy-in from the clubs, but by forcing clubs to come to the party as well."

Becker was asked if this case could change the way security and crowd violence were addressed in future.

"Yes, it has to," he said.

"This case has to change specifically the attitude of the fans, and the clubs as well. The attitude towards crowd violence is in serious need of an overhaul in South Africa.

 "That comes at all levels, from the lowest, from fans, from the clubs, the governing body, the police - everybody needs to relook at security and how it is applied because we've got another Ellis Park [disaster] looming on us."

Becker said he would make several recommendations that extended beyond just his verdict.

"There is no a silver bullet, something that the PSL can do that will change things overnight.

"We've got to look at the security aspect, education of the fans, educating the clubs and the way they deal with these things. There has got to be a publicity campaign."

Perhaps further complicating the case, and adding pressure on Becker, is a possibility of the matter being taken to arbitration and the high court by the parties.

"We've got special circumstances we are dealing with," Becker, who has had exhaustive meetings with the legal representatives of both clubs already, said. 

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