About eight fans of the English club Arsenal have been arrested in the city of Jinja, Uganda, after celebrating the victory of their club against Manchester United in the Premier League.
The fans wore the club’s red jersey and carried a symbolic trophy. The police said that they did not have permission to hold the ceremony, and that, according to them, is a violation of public order, writes the BBC.
Arsenal scored a dramatic last-minute goal to win 3-2 in Sunday’s game against a fierce rival.
The result gave the Gunners a comfortable five-point lead at the top of the table, giving fans around the world hope that the club can end their 19-year wait to win the English Premier League.
Arsenal fans were traveling in a convoy of five vehicles on Monday morning when they were pulled over by police. One of them was holding a trophy they had bought at a local shop.
“I don’t know what we did but we were just celebrating our victory over rivals Manchester United,” Arsenal fan Baker Kasule was quoted as saying by local news site Daily Monitor.
James Mubi, the regional police chief and a self-proclaimed Arsenal fan, told the BBC he had not looked into the fans’ allegations but wondered why they were celebrating when only half the season’s games had been played.
“What would happen if a fight broke out with rival fans? They did not inform the police to ensure security for their procession,” Mr Mubi said, dismissing suggestions that the arrest was linked to the frequent arrest of members of an opposition party who also wear red.
Rights groups say the Public Order Management Act has given police discretionary powers that have been used to stifle citizens’ rights.
Agather Atuhaire, a lawyer and rights activist, told the BBC that the Ugandan police continue “to have the upper hand even after the Constitutional Court struck down all the draconian provisions that gave them unlimited powers to restrict guaranteed freedom with the constitution of association and assembly”.
Arsenal and Manchester United enjoy huge support in Uganda and across Africa.