Team loss sparks violence

2016-11-02 06:01
Safety officials of Bloemfontein Celtic putting out fires started by angry spectators who attempted to burn seats at the Dr R.P. Molemela Stadium in reaction to the club's 2-1 loss to Bidvest Wits on Saturday evening (29/10). Photos: Teboho Setena

Safety officials of Bloemfontein Celtic putting out fires started by angry spectators who attempted to burn seats at the Dr R.P. Molemela Stadium in reaction to the club's 2-1 loss to Bidvest Wits on Saturday evening (29/10). Photos: Teboho Setena

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Violent protests which have become second nature at Bloemfontein Celtic could get the club in trouble with the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

Angry at the club’s third home loss to Bidvest Wits, some fans went on the rampage minutes after the game. They ripped out seats, threw objects onto the pitch and attempted to burn seats of the stadium. The angry reaction saw them chase away the players who would, traditionally, peacefully wave to the supporters before the start of games and afterwards.

A faction of the angry supporters were not willing to accept the outcome on Saturday (29/10) and reacted angrily following Celtic’s 2-1 loss to visitors Wits. This was the Mangaung giants’ third defeat at home under head coach Serame Letsoaka, who the club sacked hours later. Celtic’s management announced the sacking of the coach on Sunday (30/10) at the supporters’ general meeting held at the same venue where the angry fans had caused a scene.

Letsoaka’s firing comes almost a year after he took over from his predecessor, Clinton Larsen, who now leads Lamontville Golden Arrows. Before the game against Wits, Letsoaka had collected four points in league fixtures played away. Celtic triumphed 1-0 over Platinum Stars and went on to draw nil-nil with Chippa United.

The results away from home came after the club made changes to the technical team, demoting two assistant coaches, Lehlohonolo Seema and Duncan Lechesa, to the reserve team campaigning in the Multi Choice League. Morena Ramorebodi, who was in charge of the reserve team, became assistant coach to Letsoaka, former Free State Stars legend.

However, victory at home has not been forthcoming, placing Letsoaka under pressure.

And the 2-1 defeat to Wits on Saturday proved to be the last straw, as the club opted to fire him.

Khumbulani Konco, Celtic’s chief executive officer, explained.

“Unfortunately, results are not forthcoming and the reality is that football is results-driven. After our meeting with the coach, we agreed to part ways. It was not an easy decision, purely because of our healthy relationship with the coach. We would like to wish him all of the best in his future endeavours.”

Konco announced that former captains John Maduka and Seema will be taking charge of the team in the interim, while they are searching for a suitable replacement for Letsoaka.

The first assignment of Seema and Maduka is against Cape Town City today. The fixture will be played in Cape Town.

Konco did not hide his disgust with the violent conduct fans displayed in reacting to the team’s 2-1 loss. “We are disappointed at management because of the scenes of hooliganism that prevailed on the night of our game against Bidvest Wits. Looting and vandalising the stadium is wrong and must be condemned with the contempt it deserves. There are proper supporters’ branch structures in place for supporters to address their grievances. Seeing a section of fans acting improperly made us question their agenda for acting in such a rebellious manner.”

In February this year, a faction of unruly Celtic fans also embarked on such action at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, ripping up seats. They were reacting to the club’s 1-0 loss to Orlando Pirates. Celtic were at the same position, 12th on the PSL table, six points above the relegation play-off position, when fans embarked on the rampage.

Express was unsuccessful in getting comment from the PSL’s acting chief officer, Mato Madlala, regarding the incident.

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