We cannot become lax with security measures at sporting events

Saturday, May 04, 2019

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There was a time, decades ago, when hooliganism of the type which marred the Red Stripe Premier League football final on Monday night was fairly commonplace in Jamaican football.

Not just club competitions, but those at the community and schoolboy level were all too often disrupted by spectator unruliness and violence.

Nor was football alone in this regard. Other sporting events, including cricket at Sabina Park, were disrupted from time to time by unruly spectators.

Even when there was no violence, scenes of numerous spectators 'beating the gate' by climbing walls or breaching openings at venues were regular occurrences and a source of shame.

That such incidents have significantly reduced down the years may be partly due to a gradual maturing of the Jamaican mindset.

But also, we suspect, it was the result of a conscious effort by authorities and event managers to take proactive action in terms of security and management.

Such measures included banning glass bottles — not just at football but also at other sporting and entertainment events, and ensuring the presence of adequate security — private as well as police, and in some instances even the military.

What's clear from Monday night's display is that organisers of Jamaica's top football league had grown complacent after years of consistently relative calm at football venues.

In that respect, therefore, Monday night's ugly scenes at the premier league final may turn out to be blessings in disguise.

We note the pledge by Jamaica Football Federation executive Mr Dalton Wint that all necessary action will be taken to prevent security breaches at upcoming regional and international games at the National Stadium.

That's how it should be at all times.

As analysts and others keep saying, football is one of those games which ignite high passion. While there can be no excuse for such behaviour, there are those without the requisite self-control — and sometimes out of pure spite and bad mindedness — who will respond violently or inappropriately when officiating or the run of play goes against them.

Security measures should always be in place to deal with such people.

All that said, Portmore United deserve all praise for another season of good football and well-earned, back-to-back titles. As an outfit striving to be professional in a largely amateur football environment, Portmore United have consistently shown the way for others to follow.

Their outgoing head coach, Mr Shavar Thomas, a former national defender and a sober, measured man, is showing real potential as a coach destined for great things.

We applaud his comment regarding what's needed for success in football. While the players are crucial, Mr Thomas makes the point that everyone must play their role “...[W]hen you have a 100 per cent backing from everyone, the staff, the directors, everybody will make (the) wheel function. Everybody is important,” he said.

We wish Mr Thomas all the best as he goes off to take on a new challenge as head coach of Turks and Caicos.

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