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FIFPro urges the national authorities and football associations to stamp out violence in professional football. In the last seven days, FIFPro has noticed a handful of disturbing incidents, with players being the victim.

 

The past week has been a horrible week for professional football and all its players and fans. ‘Almost every day I was informed about a violent incident aimed at a professional footballer’, says Tony Higgins, FIFPro’s spokesman on player’s welfare.

 

Some of last week’s incidents:

  • On Tuesday, after Zambia beat South Africa 1-0 in Johannesburg, Zambia goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene was hurt when rocks were thrown at the team bus. Mweene needed stitches to heal the cut. According to reports, two teenage boys were taken into custody.
  • On Wednesday, referee Saul Laverni suspended the Argentine league match between Independiente and Belgrano before the second half could start, after Belgrano goalkeeper Juan Carlos Olave was stunned by a flare and fans continued to throw flares at the pitch.
  • On Saturday, the Russian premier league match between Zenit St Petersburg and Dynamo Moscow was abandoned late in the first half after Dynamo goalkeeper Anton Shunin suffered an eye injury from one of the many firecrackers and missiles thrown by Zenit fans. Shunin was diagnosed with chemical burns to his cornea in both eyes and some hearing loss in his right ear. According to his club, the Russian international must rest up to 10 days. Police arrested 53 people, including the supporter who allegedly threw the missile. 

 

FIFPro is shocked by these incidents. ‘It is still unclear to some people, that professional footballers are human beings’, says Tony Higgins. ‘Do those people realize that players like Mweene, Olave and Shunin could be handicapped for the rest of their life, because of their hooliganism?’

 

‘Mweene, Olave and Shunin are human beings. They are sons, maybe husbands and fathers. They are not only sportsmen, but also workers who support their families and happen to earn their money on the football field.’

 

‘One missile causing a nasty explosion could impact the player’s life and that of his family in a horrific way.’

 

FIFPro, the voice of all professional footballers in the world, demands that the national authorities in all countries together with the national football associations and the clubs, prevent that the players get harmed by hooligans indulging in violent incidents.

 

‘As every professional workman, each professional footballer is entitled to a safe working environment. It is up to the football and national authorities to provide such safe environment.’

 

Higgins: ‘We are living in the year 2012, but apparently some people still have the impression that they can behave like barbarians and are allowed to abuse players. Those thoughts and acts need be banned from football. Now!’

 

On Monday, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev announced strong measures after the abandoned match between Zenit and Dynamo. ‘It was a deliberate criminal act, therefore we must change the legislation to try to prevent such unlawful acts in the future’, Medvedev told senior ministers at a meeting, according to Reuters. ‘Such crimes cannot go unpunished, you have to go to jail if you commit them.’

 

Higgins on the announcement by Prime Minister Medvedev: ‘I welcome the remarks made by Prime Minister Medvedev and his intention to provide adequate laws to deal with this violence. But football authorities must do their bit too and work with the fans to educate them that this behaviour is completely unacceptable.’