The Tunisian Football Federation (FTF) is to take the extraordinary stance of financially rewarding the best behaving fans in the country after a host of violent incidents at games of late.
One supporter was arrested after wielding a chainsaw at an African Champions League game between Tunisian side Esperance and Algeria’s JS Kabylie in April, while others lit fireworks that caught fire in the stands as the contest had to be delayed by 40 minutes as fire fighters tackled the small blaze.
All told, an alarming 66 people were arrested in the latest of episodes that have blighted Tunisian football.
Esperance were fined £230,000 and ordered to play their next two African Champions League games behind closed doors – including the semi-final of the 2022/23 tournament against Egyptian outfit Al Ahly. If they misbehave further within the next 12 months, they could be banned from the Champions League for a whole season.
That’s the second time that Esperance have been hit with such a sanction in the past two years – after riots turned violent during a game against Tunisian rivals Etoile Sportive Sahel, the Confederation of African Football issued another stadium ban on them.
In 2018, 38 police officers were injured stewarding clashes between Esperance and Etoile supporters, while in 2019 Esperance were forced behind closed doors once more after their supporters attacked the Al Ahly team bus.
Tired of the ongoing issues with fans of many Tunisian clubs, the FTF have come up with a novel solution to the problem….
On Their Best Behaviour
Now, rather than fining offending clubs or hitting them with other sanctions, the Tunisian Football Federation will instead reward the best-behaved clubs with prize money.
So bad had the situation got that FTF president Wadia Jariaa met with the Tunisian government to discuss potential solutions, and it’s hoped that a softly-softly approach – designed to reward conformists rather than punish the badly-behaved – will make supporters think twice before acting inappropriately and wielding chainsaws at games. Supporters groups play a huge role in setting the tone for the match with their pre-game displays and ‘tifo’s’.
So now the FTF will pay out a prize pool of £2,592 to supporters that are judged to have been the most ‘ideal’ in every round of matches from now until the end of the season. But sadly, the fans won’t see a single penny of the money – it will be paid to the clubs they support instead.
The trial will run until the end of the campaign and could be rolled out permanently, and in the lower leagues of Tunisian football, if the results suggest it has been a success.
The Federation also plans to clamp down on illegal ticket sales and introduce tighter stewarding, while hiring private security firms to beef up the enforcement presence within Tunisian stadiums.
Tunisian football faces other problems too. One lower league club, Ghardimaou, was forced to withdraw from all of its competitions after 32 of its players illegally emigrated to Europe.