Accra Hearts of Oak grabbed the football news headlines on Friday when a handful of misguided fans, call them thugs, stormed the club’s training ground to brazenly prevent their coach, Slavko Matic from performing his legitimate duty.
The Serbian trainer claims his nose was punched as the unruly fans, incited by their leaders, ensured that the coach was barred from the training field. Spokesperson of the National Chapters Committee (official Hearts supporters’ group), Kobby Jones stated in no ambiguous terms on radio that the coach would be stopped from doing his work.
In nine matches, Matic has won four, drawn three and lost two. Granted that’s poor, invading the team’s training pitch and angrily driving the coach out, can’t be the most civilised, professional route of dismissing a so-called non-performing coach.
To think that the supporters’ leadership issued threats and shamelessly carried out those threats, affirms my long-held view that, the very destroyers of our club football are those in it. Hearts in a press release on Friday said, they don’t endorse violence. They wouldn’t shield the misbehaving fans, they added.
The club statement meant nothing to the hoodlums. Hearts might’ve denounced the attack before it happened, but they could’ve taken pre-emptive steps by giving Matic security at the training ground to wade off the misbehaving fans. Some colleague journalists say Hearts managers are complicit but whether that’s true or false, the Management can’t escape blame.
Their deafening silence since the attack does no good service. Photos of Matic at the Regional Police Headquarters impugn the image of Hearts of Oak. With this, Matic’s relationship with Hearts is destined for failure, that’s if it hasn’t already collapsed. This isn’t how to dismiss a coach in today’s football.
Evidence of increasing unruly, backward behaviour in our football is a worry to discerning fans. In April 2017, an Asante Kotoko thug did same to Croat, Dzrako Logarusic. It’s shameful that Hearts have emulated such bad example. The parallel lines in both the Hearts and Kotoko episode are deep.
The two biggest clubs in Ghana can’t do this and expect applause from decent-minded football fans. The Hearts incident, coming at a time the Ghana Football Association is striving to better position the image of local football, is highly embarrassing and it should be condemned by all right-thinking football enthusiasts.