Attempts to keep all intoxicating bevearages out of the stadiums are not bearing much fruit as patrons continue to bring beer bottles into the sports arenas especially during football games and drink as they enjoy the ‘beatiful game.’
According to the secretary general of the First Division League Committee, Rapula Gaotlhobogwe, smuggling beer into sporting arenas is prevalent. “We are concerned and always appeal to teams to educate their members on the hazards of drinking in public places such as a stadium. Besides, the law prohibits it,” said Rapula in an interview.
Since intoxication is associated with aggressive behaviour, Rapula contends that, because football is a FIFA product, revellers must behave in a way that does not threaten the security of their fellow revellers. “A minimum of 25 security personnel is what is required at the stadium and it is the responsibility of the hosting team to provide the security so as to, among other things, ensure that beer is not smauggled into the stadium,” noted Gaothobogwe. Contacted for comment, publicity secretary of the Tati African Football Independence Club (TAFIC), Warren Kolola, conceded that containing the smuggling of intoxicating beverages into the stadium is a big challenge.
“We try by all means to make our stadiums alcohol free whenever we are the hosting team. The first difficulty though is that we do not have the capacity to search all the vehicles entering the stadium. Secondly, because we cannot affort the services of a security company as we do not have the money to pay it, we normally have to rely on Volunteers from the general membership of our team. Not only are they not even trained in the area of security, they do not have the legal standing to demand to search anybody’s vehicle and this leads to some people entering the stadium with beer.
“Besides, some people simply drive into the stadium with beer under their vehicle seats and dare anybody to try and search them,” said Kolola. He added that, people smuggle booze into the stadium with the full knowledge that it is unlawful to drink in public. In his view, bye-law officers and the national police should help with the manning of the stadium during games because they are, unlike volunteers, protected by the law in the event they are assaulted in the execution of their mandate. For his part, the manager of ECCO Football Club, Mothusi Jowawa, explained that one of the reasons why teams seem to look the other way when patrons smuggle beer into the stadium is that they are struggling financially.
“We rely on their P20.00s and have got little motivation for alienating the patrons just because they smuggled beer into the stadium because, we would be the losers. Actually part of the alcohol levy should be used to sponsor the teams,” said Jowawa. In his view, instead of closing beer out of the stadium, beer kegs (a kind of drum) should be allowed into the stadium so that people may drink. “It is the bottles that should not be allowed. Instead, people should be allowed to sell beer from kegs as well as disposable cups for their customers. Football is entertainment and it is inconcievable to separate football and alcohol,” he said adding that banning beer from the stadiums has the effect of turning people off from the stadiums hence denying the teams the necessary revenue.