Crowd management at football matches still seems to be a problem after a woman passed before the Warriors 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Congo at the national Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Even though the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) had pre-sold tickets for the big game in order to avoid congestion, still chaos ensured.
Zifa should take the blame for this chaos because they did not publicise enough the process of their electronic ticket system.
Each ticket was allocated a specific entry point at the venue and a ticket holder had to be aware of this fact.
As a security measure to guard against counterfeiters, the tickets had to be scanned as well before a holder was allowed entry into the venue.
Pre-sold tickets are a new concept to local football and fans are still in their default mode like what they do for Premier Soccer League matches.
With tickets for domestic football action being sold at the gate, fans have the tendency of arriving at the venue just 15 or 10 minutes before kick-off which usually creates congestion before big matches.
Zifa announced that they would be selling pre-sold ticket for Sunday’s big match in December last year; a noble idea was considering the unfortunate scenes before the qualifier against the Democratic Republic of Congo last October.
The association then partnered a local technology company – Click and Pay – which provided an online platform for fans to purchase their tickets well in advance before the day of the game.
Online tickets sells commenced on February 1 at least two months before the date of the game but Zimbabweans are still resistant to this modern trend.
Just a few hours before kick-off, fans were jostling and shoving each other as they battled to secure tickets at some of the walk-in outlets.
Zifa had also indicated that all gates at the venue would be closed by 1.30pm some one and a half hours before kick-off which meant people were supposed to show up early.
However, all this did not happen on this fateful Sunday afternoon, as the chaos normally associated with warriors home matches ensured.
Due to Zifa’s failure to publicise that fans needed to use specific gates mentioned on their tickets, it was pandemonium before the game as people went from pillar to post as they tried to locate their entry point.
At the gates, some of the scanners were not working and it was taking a long time to just clear one person to enter.
When Zifa conducted their dry run for this new online ticket system, these are some of the issues they should have picked up together with their technology partner.
The biggest blunder by Zifa and the police details at the venue was their failure to realise that a catastrophe was waiting to happen due to the delay in scanning ticket at the gates.
At that stage, fans should have been allowed to enter while marshals just tear the tickets stubs to ease the congestion.
But their lack of understanding the gravity of the situation resulted in one person losing their life after a stampede occurred at Gate 3.
Now a single family is mourning because those responsible for the security of the fans – Zifa and police – slept on duty at a crucial time.
It seems Zimbabwe never learns and more lives will be lost at home Warriors matches unless Zifa and the various security services reform their crowd management procedures. DailyNews