By Ko Htwe
The Myanmar Football Federation (MFF) handed out a range of punishments on Tuesday to players and coaches from the Naypyidaw Football Club and Yangon United after fighting and hooliganism brought a violent, premature end to this year’s Myanmar National League final earlier this month.
According to a statement released by the MFF, Naypyidaw FC has been ordered to cover half of the cost for repairing the Wunna Theikdi stadium that was vandalised during a series of brawls on 4 August. The team was also hit an 11-match suspicion on their home turf during 2014-15 football season.
The violence kicked off after Yangon United scored a goal during a penalty kick at 32 minutes into the match. Following the penalty, a Naypyidaw fan rushed the pitch and tried to assault one the referees, which kicked off a series of brawls on the field and in the stands in the newly finished Wunna Theikdi stadium. As authorities struggled to contain the violence, referees stopped the match minutes later.
Well-known sports columnist and member of the MFF’s disciplinary committee Khin Maung Htwe decried the fighting at the season final, but said the situation could have been prevented.
“It was a very ugly incident we’ve never had this in our history before,” said Khin Maung Htwe. “I think everyone deserves blame for this – the situation could have been avoided.”
On Tuesday, the MFF sought to punish the coaches and players who played an instrumental role in the violence. Naypyidaw FC’s Khine Htoo was handed a season ban, while the club’s Zaw Lin will be forced to sit out his first five matches next season and was fined 500,000 kyat (US$ 512).
The club’s Tin Zaw Moe and Zaw Myo Oo were also handed five-match bans and will have to pay 200,000 kyat (US$ 205) in fines each. The team’s coach Myo Hlang Win and assistance coach Myo Win will also miss three matches next season and pay 500,000 kyat in fines each.
Yangon United’s assistance coach Tin Maung Htun and player Kyi Linn were also slammed with three match bans and 500,000 Kyat fines.
The violence casts a nasty shadow on the country’s sporting sector as Burma prepares to host the Southeast Asia Games for the first time in December.
Burma’s football fans have a history of participating in violent brawls during matches in the country and at away games. In July 2011, a World Cup qualifying football match in Rangoon between Burma’s national team and Oman was abruptly canceled during the second half after Burmese supporters threw water bottles and stones at the visiting team.