Bleeding coaches and targeted referees… Violence is savage in the Tunisian league, and losses are in the millions


TunisiaScenes of violence in the Tunisian Football League matches are no longer just isolated incidents that occur from time to time, but have become a phenomenon that has spread strongly in football stadiums, and the official authorities, security services and club officials have become unable to combat and address it.

The match between the Beja and African players came last week, within the stage of winning the league title, which was stopped by the referee only 17 minutes after its start due to the violent incidents, to confirm the unprecedented exacerbation of the phenomenon and in a manner that is becoming increasingly dangerous week after week.

The referee of the match, Yusri Bouali, announced that the match was stopped in the 17th minute, after the African coach, Saeed Al-Saibi, was injured by a stone thrown by a fan on the team’s substitutes’ bench. Referee staff.

After these events, the Professional Football League decided to consider the Olympian of Baji as a loser in the match, 2-0, and to impose a fine of 20 thousand dinars (about 6.5 thousand dollars), in addition to forcing the club to play 3 matches outside its rules and without the presence of its fans.

Later, the Public Prosecution Office in Beja Governorate (northwest) announced the arrest of a fan suspected of hitting Saeed Al-Saibi with stones, before he was released and investigations completed.

Bleeding that won’t stop

The Beja and African Olympic match does not appear to be a unique case in the Tunisian League, which entered the arena of violence and chaos in a manner that intensifies and repercussions from one match to another. Many confrontations witnessed varying cases of crowd violence that targeted referees, policemen, coaches, and officials.

During the current season, football referees announced the suspension of 5 matches that witnessed physical violence and manifestations of chaos and riots on the field and the stands, in the first and second division leagues, while the number of interviews that involved violent incidents was nearly 20 matches.

Often, coaches or referees were subjected to violent attacks as a result of fans throwing projectiles of all kinds, such as stones, bottles, coins or “sharp”, which caused the suspension of a number of matches and the imposition of strict penalties on the clubs whose fans were behind these events.

And last February, the referee of the Tunisian Stade and Etoile du Sahel match announced that it had been stopped in the 70th minute, after the assistant referee was injured by Shamrock, who started from the stands of the first team.

An ambulance is preparing to transport the African-Tunisian coach Said Al-Siyabi to the hospital after he fell on the grass as a result of being hit by stones from a fan in the African-Olympian match against Beja.
The ambulance is preparing to transport the African-Tunisian coach Saeed Al-Siyabi to the hospital (Al-Jazeera)

In the same period, the assistant coach of Tunisian Esperance, Nader Daoud, was injured by a stone in the head, in his team’s match against the Bizertin club, which necessitated that he be subjected to first aid on the edge of the field before resuming play in the match that ended with a score of 1-0 for Esperance.

Pictures and clips on the communication platforms showed the Esperance doctor mending the wound that opened in Dawood’s head, which sparked harsh criticism of the referee, who approved the continuation of the match despite the tense atmosphere.

Zarzis coach Qais Zawaghi was attacked with extreme violence in his club’s match against the convoys of Gafsa in the promotion match to the first division, which prompted the referee to stop the match before the Professional League decided to impose the penalty of playing without the presence of the audience on the convoys and defeated him 2-0.

A policeman was seriously injured as a result of being attacked by fans of the host team in the match between Hilal Al Shaba and Al Taraji, which necessitated his transfer to the hospital for treatment.

Justice is absent

Mohamed Mahjoub, head of the Tunisian stadium, revealed that “the masses’ resort to violence in stadiums is usually a reaction to a wrong decision by the referees or a protest against an official, coach, etc., but combating it requires that each party play its role in the best way,” he said.

Mahjoub told Al-Jazeera Net, “Justice in football is the best way to avoid violence and riots. Our team was a victim of the referees’ mistakes, but we seek to frame our fans. The Football Association, the Referees Committee and the clubs bear a part in stopping a number of league matches as a result of the violence.”

The spokesman believes that “the masses’ lack of awareness of the seriousness of the phenomenon and the fans’ associations abandoning their role in framing and calling for calm are behind the high level of violent incidents.”

Review laws and deter rioters

Football referees in Tunisia are accused of what they considered “tolerance” on the part of the security authorities and the Football Association towards the perpetrators of violence, calling for tougher penalties against anyone found involved in committing attacks against referees, coaches or policemen, according to Amine Barakallah, the official spokesperson for the Association of Football Referees. foot.

Barakallah told Al-Jazeera Net, “We consider that strict laws are the beginning of the solution to combat violence, especially against referees. A number of points must be deducted from the club’s balance that proves that its fans committed acts of violence against the referee. We need more deterrent laws because the current ones do not fit with seriousness of what is happening.

The spokesman confirmed that he was subjected to violence more than once during his arbitration career, adding that “the state is required to adopt a practical and serious approach to combat violence in stadiums, and the Football Association’s responsibility is great in reducing the phenomenon, especially in calling on clubs to bear the consequences of what their fans commit.”

wholesale penalties

Since the start of the 2022-2023 football season, the Professional Football League has imposed more than 200 disciplinary penalties against clubs of the first and second divisions, ranging from financial sins, with a minimum of two thousand dinars and a maximum of 20 thousand dinars, and playing matches without an audience or defeating a club whose fans commit acts. Violence resulting in injury to a referee, coach, player or official.

And last May, as a result of the outbreak of riots, the Tunisian Football Association approved the ideal audience award, which is awarded weekly to a club whose fans are committed to the sportsmanship, and its value is 20,000 dinars (about 6.5 thousand dollars).

It is noteworthy that the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Sports in Tunisia have imposed restrictions since 2020 on the entry of fans to football stadiums, by allowing only fans of the host team over the age of 18 to enter.

And the official authorities in Tunisia estimated the losses that resulted from the violent incidents in stadiums and sports facilities between 2021 and 2022 at nearly 3 million dinars, the most severe of which was in the Tunisian Esperance match and the Algerian JS Kabylie last April.


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Bleeding coaches and targeted referees… Violence is savage in the Tunisian league, and losses are in the millions

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