Two managers of rival teams in the annual baibalaa tournament have been suspended after violence broke out at the end of a match last Monday.
Footage of the incident shows players and supporters of teams BG and Club Teenage running onto the pit and throwing punches at each other. BG was winning handily but the Teenage team was unhappy with the referee’s decisions.
No arrests were made but Specialist Operations police moved in to bring the situation under control.
Ruling party MP Ahmed Assad, head of the Baibalaa Association, told The Maldives Independent last week that the association’s disciplinary committee has suspended members from the management of both teams.
“About two people from the management side of both teams have been suspended for up to two years because we had witnessed people from the team’s management going into the pit first, which encouraged and enabled supporters to go as well,” he said.
The MP for Gemanafushi said he watched the match. He defended the referees from accusations of bias.
“They are just two humans, they may also miss some things,” he said.
Baibalaa is a variation of the popular South Asian sport kabaddi. The tournament concluded last night with ‘Eagles in 3D’ defeating ‘Masodi Sports Club’ to be crowned this year’s champions.
Assad went on to express disappointment with local media reporting the incident as gang violence.
The annual contest has previously triggered fights between rival gangs in Malé, which are alleged to operate registered sports clubs and association.
“It actually upsets me very much that the incident has been labelled gang violence. Every human makes mistakes sometime in their life but to label them as criminals on the media is not good,” he said.
“But that night, things went a bit far. But during the past five years, we have seen very few such incidents.”
The authorities meanwhile faced criticism after reports that suspected gang members who were electronically tagged under ‘monitoring and control orders’ were allowed to play.
The police said the tags were not removed and the suspects were allowed to play under police supervision.
— Min. Youth & Sports (@MinYouthSports) July 15, 2016