Racists get red card at Loftus
Blue Bulls fans (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - The Blue Bulls Rugby Union have made it clear that any form of victimisation, racism, drunkenness or misbehaviour will not be tolerated at Loftus Versfeld in future.
The announcement was made by chief executive Barend van Graan at the weekly press conference to reiterate a zero-tolerance policy already in force at the union for years.
Van Graan said the move was a pro-active one and was not because of any individual incident that had been brought to their attention, but he was open in saying Loftus is not immune to this sort of misbehaviour.
“This is a pro-active step by us,” Van Graan said, “We have had racial incidents in the past and while we are not referring here to a single incident at any match, we know there are from time to time incidents of drunkenness, crude language, racism or victimisation that take place.
“We clearly cannot tolerate incidents like this at Loftus. We want to make it clear that all visitors, supporters and spectators – from all races – are welcome at Loftus Versfeld.”
To drive this zero tolerance campaign, the Bulls will widely advertise two emergency numbers during matches in future, where security personnel can be alerted to any untoward behavior.
“This is not something new, but we want to state it clearly by advertising our two emergency numbers where an sms can be sent to the control room. From there we have 76 cameras around the stadium where we can zoom into any incident and act accordingly.”
Van Graan said the zero tolerance policy would not be “just confined to race” but to any behaviour that crosses the line.
“We are sensitive that we have families at Loftus and men and women sitting together. We want a match at Loftus Versfeld to be a positive fun filled experience. We don’t want to stop the spirit of sportsmanship and healthy competition – that’s part of rugby, and we want a crowd that is interactive.”
Van Graan admitted that it wasn’t easy making a statement like this, especially without any incident to use as proof.
“We can’t say incidents like this are increasing or decreasing, but sometimes we hear a story third hand and obviously we don’t want it to happen. It’s not easy to make a statement like this and acknowledge openly that things like this happen.
“We are not proud to make this statement, but at times we feel it is necessary and we ask our fans to support us in this.”
Van Graan said any spectator who behaves in an unacceptable manner would face the might of the law.
“If someone is in violation of the law, there will be consequences. We obviously hope that we will never have to enforce this and we ask our spectators to help us with this.”