So who should pay for damages done by â€˜state hooligansâ€™? This was the question left to the audience to ponder on as Football Kenya Federation and the national government differed openly on how to handle Gor Mahia fans.
It was to be an open war on hooliganism, more precisely, Gor Mahia hooliganism but the difference emerged on who should do what, to who, where and how?
To Sam Nyamweya, Gor fans deserve a special police unit, like the anti-stock theft unit or the the Anti-narcotics unit. A full batalion of soldiers employed by taxpapers money to specifically (mis) handle Gor Mahiaâ€™s Green Army, which in itself is a fully fledged army.
Nyamweya says football clubs and their managements have no capacity to deal with core of the Gor fans. Just like the proverbial war on terrorism and its sidekick, war on drugs, the government decried â€˜war on hooliganismâ€™ as one which it is losing to a marauding Green army of very undisciplined forces.
My take is that Nyamweya may be right; Gor fans need a special police unit. However, Sam seems oblivious of certain facts. To form a police unit to deal with Gorâ€™s green army is to pendulum precariously on peopleâ€™s basic rights, especially the right of association, assembly and expression!
The police will not like Gor fans singing â€œBensouda Anthemâ€ at 2pm on Tom Mboya Statue. Right? How will they stop it? How can they?
Sam also forgets that among the fans, only a small unit form the platoon of â€˜spoilt army wingâ€™. The spoilt army wing is the one Sam wants a police unit to deal with. However, this wing is the very reason why the other wing exists. It is the wing which charms the crowds. It is the wing which writes new songs for Kâ€™ogallo and conjures new words like â€œGiniwasekaoâ€, â€œginiwasekanoâ€, and â€œgigiwabirogoyoâ€ should they attempt to form that police unit, just to mention a few.
â€œThe dynamics that surround hooliganism are deeper than the clubs can handle and it is the responsibility of the police to come in and help the clubs because they have the powers to arrest and prosecute,â€ good old nyamweya said and added, â€œI am urging the minister and the Kenyan government to set up a special anti-hooliganism police unit that will help in curbing hooliganism just like the tourist police and military police units. It is not possible for the federation and clubs to fight hooliganism because we donâ€™t have the capacity.â€
Enter sports cabinet secretary Ali Wario. Mincing no words, taking no prisoners, this Jubilee official called old Samâ€™s sentiments â€rubbishâ€, saying the government â€œnever threw stones at anyone, the government never stole those chairs at the stadiums and we donâ€™t go around throwing stonesâ€.
It is the attitude of people like Wario which compounds the problem. His talk reeks of verbal hooliganism. If he is man â€˜enoughâ€™ and has the weight of the government that â€˜throweth not stonesâ€™, why has he been defeated to end Green Army hooliganism? Nonsense! The war on hooliganism cannot be won by chest thumping!
â€œ I saw it with my own eyes on Sunday during the Gotv finals at Nyayo stadium; seeing Gor Mahia fans stealing chairs, breaking property and throwing stones all over.â€ Said a fuming Wario. So what? What did you do? Isnâ€™t that exactly what Nyamweya was raising? That at that level, the football club management is insufficient to handle runaway hooliganism?
â€œIt is also not possible to form a special police unit to just deal with hooliganism as the chairman has said here, I have even talked to the inspector General of Police and he says that is impossible; clubs should be responsible for their own fans.â€ He added. Well, time will tell if a police unit will not be formed.
The disagreenments arose during the FOYA gala night at Safari park.
Before I sign off. . .my congratulations to Midfielder of the Year Brian Osumba. . .I know him in person!
By Dikembe Disembe