South West football officials clamp down on violence and vandalism. The South West has always been the first province to hatch qualifiers for the interppol tournament. Tradition has been respected this year with Prisons and Botafogo all of Buea picking the two tickets out of the fourteen earmarked for interpool 2002. It was however, not on a platter of gold.
After a rugged season, four teams qualified for the provincial mini-interpool derbies. Prisons, Tiko United, Botafogo AFC and Kumba Lakers moved into the final stage of the provincial championship. While Prisons easily edged the Lakers from Kumba, Botafogo faced a ferocious resistance from the Tiko squad. After a one all tie in the first leg, the two teams met at the Limbe Centenary Stadium for the second and last leg. In spite of a hitch free first half, the second was marred by violence that ended with some officials being hospitalised.
According to the report of the match delegate and confidential security reports, the onus of responsibility for the violence was placed « squarely at the door steps of Tiko United. » A young man « identified as a Tiko United supporter » threatened officials with a knife. The police intervened « confiscated the knife and arrested the boy. » The goalkeeper of Tiko United is also said to have « knocked down the coach of Botafogo ». The German born Botafogo trainer was transported to the hospital in a near coma. The referee eventually halted the match on grounds of « insecurity ». The provincial homologation and discipline committee, after reviewing all the relevant reports by match and security officials ruled in favour of Botafogo, said to be « a victim of violence ». The organising committee of the mini-interpool in the province headed by Colonel Louis Pangop and assisted by Johnathan Tambe, Provincial Delegate of Youth and Sports endorsed the findings of the match officials and declared Prisons Buea and Botafogo AFC flag bearers of the Province for interpool 2002.
Violence remains a cankerworm in the football industry of the province. A referee and the Provincial Secretary General of FECAFOOT have died after separate incidences involving football violence in the South West. The provincial executive bureau had received instructions from national organs to clamp down on perpetrators of football related violence. With a Colonel at the helm of the provincial executive, it is expected that military justice may be the panacea for a province that maintains a national record for beating officials to death after football matches. Football clubs have to pay the price for the barbarism of their fans and players. The national interpool tournament remains a show case of the best and brightest from the provincial leagues. The South West football officials have a duty to disqualify any team that can smear the image of the province in a national tournament. Violence and vandalism have no place in modern football and all perpetrators deserve severe sanctions.