Zimbabwean champions FC Platinum have issued an apology after their coach Norman Mapeza beat his defender Gift Bello soon after the 0-0 draw that took them into the Caf Champions League group stages at the expense of their Congolese opponents.
The incident took place in full view of the Zimbabwe FA President Felton Kamambo, the FC Platinum executive, fans and in front of the celebrating players.
Bello, who was not part of the matchday squad, serving a Caf suspension for accumulating two yellow cards, had raced onto the pitch at the final whistle to celebrate the group stage qualification with his teammates when the incident occurred.
What prompted a seemingly irate Mapeza to assault Bello is yet to be ascertained but if the match commissioner notes the incident in his report, the former Galatasaray midfielder could invite Caf sanctions.
“We wish to apologize to our valued supporters and stakeholders for the altercation that took place involving our head coach Norman Mapeza and Gift Bello after the match against AS Otoho D’Oyo,” FC Platinum said in a statement.
“Whilst the full investigation to ascertain what triggered the scuffle are still being conducted, FC Platinum will make it abundantly clear that it does not condone any acts of violence at any level as it is not a reflection of our values and ethos.
“Our commitment to our stakeholders is to continue being a brand of choice and be the Zimbabwean flagship for African football.”
Known for his volcanic temper, Mapeza, then as Monomotapa coach, was disqualified in the running for the 2008 Coach of the Year award following a violent altercation with a fan.
Away from Saturday's incident, FC Platinum advanced to the group stage on away goals advantage after a 1-1 first-leg draw away in Congo Brazzaville.
It is the first ever time for the Zimbabwean champions to reach the Caf Champions League group phase after two previous unsuccessful attempts.