Sunday, May 29, 2022

Local fans need education on stadium etiquette

Lobatse Stadium hosted its maiden game on Thursday with a clash between local football giants Gaborone United and Extension Gunners.

As expected, the game attracted a lot of spectators.

While the Stadium’s ability to host major events is not in doubt, some of the people who went to the stadium lamented that the stadium is not very safe, adding that a lot needs to be done to ensure not only the safety of officials, but also of players, with some being of the view that the stands should be fenced in.

The views were expressed after many soccer fans crossed into the field at the end of the game play.
With incidents in the past where officials were attacked by irate fans, these views are not far off the mark.

Commenting on the issue of security at the stadium, Premier League Manager, Setete Phuthego, said the only solution to the security problem is to educate local fans on what need not be done at the stadiums. Phuthego told Standard Sport that the stadium is okay as it is, adding that a lot of countries across the world use the same kind of stadiums. “Even FIFA (Federation of International Football Associations) advocates for spectator friendly stadiums and this extends to not fencing in spectators,” Phuthego informed Standard Sport.

The Premier League manager is of the view that just like in Molepolole Stadium, the situation will normalise soon.

Phuthego says the spectators’ invasion of the pitch at the newly opened stadium may have also been due to the fact that the stadium was in use for the first time and fans did what they did out of excitement.
He says in the past two seasons they when they used the Molepolole Sports Complex, they experienced only two incidents of spectators coming into the field after games.

He further added that while redeploying more security at the stadium is an option, he believes this will also not completely stop the trend. Meanwhile, the Premier League manager is of the belief that the newly opened stadium has the capability to host any game.

Phuthego’s views are shared by Gaborone United’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Romeo Benjamin, who says education on stadium etiquette to the fans is of crucial importance if the issue of fans coming into the field is to be resolved.

He is, however, of the feeling that while education is continuing, there is still a lot that needs to be done. On the issue of redeploying more security officers, Benjamin says while this may be another option, financial difficulties will always be a hurdle to doing as such.
Benjamin, however, felt that if there is an area where more needs to be done, it is on the perimeter of the fence surrounding the stadium as fans climb over it.

Another area of concern for the GU spokesperson was the status of the players’ change rooms as well as the traffic congestion to and from the stadium.

Concerning the change rooms, Benjamin says they should be locked to ensure safety to players and their belongings, adding that this is the trend in international stadiums.
The tricky problem will, however, be with traffic congestion, which will be beyond either the league or the teams’ control.

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