Football in Australia must take the strongest possible stance under the laws and regulations against what occurred last Saturday in Melbourne.
An extremely small number of people cannot be allowed to place in jeopardy the good name of the clubs, the game, or the safety of other supporters.
I say people, because those who deliberately set out to create a situation of violence against football fans are not, themselves, fans. They are opportunists seeking to gain from the stature of football.
They may, mistakenly, consider themselves as football fans however they miss one very important requirement: having a club and the game’s best interests at heart.
This is the ultimate test we all must undergo. Are you really there for the club and/or the game, or for your own ends?
Dragging the game’s reputation down is something that no real football fan would do, and the very reason why we need to rid the game of those prepared to do so.
Whether the use of flares or any type of violent or anti-social behaviour according to our broader community standards, they are unacceptable in this country and the entire game must mobilise to see them stamped out.
It is no good pointing to what occurs in other countries as an excuse. Whether these countries allow flares or any other behaviour is not relevant to this country, or to our game. They are not allowed, and therefore not welcome here.
More broadly, these incidents are disgusting because not only do they give the game’s detractors ammunition to attack the rise of football, which is doing so much to progress the national direction in inclusiveness, multiculturalism and in international diplomacy, but they also put every fair minded fan in a vulnerable position when dealing with the anti-football bigots.
This is why I abhor these types of mindless act so greatly, because whereas on one hand we are demanding fair and balanced coverage from the nation’s media in the face of obvious, long-standing and commercially-driven anti-football bias, a stupid act by a handful of idiots allows the broader game to be tainted once again.
(I do want to point out, however, that I believe the media has matured greatly and the vast majority of coverage today seeks to report, not to diminish or inflame.)
This is also why every single fan around the country has to stand strong against any, and all, that seek to detract from the otherwise magnificent steps forward and wonderful atmosphere in our grounds, because we are not hypocrites.
We can only demand fairness, if we also stand up to denounce these abominable acts if they do occur.
The tit-for-tat statements by Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers were ridiculous and unbecoming of two of the greatest clubs in the land.
Instead of blaming the other, our clubs should be standing united against a common enemy, those that created the situation in the first place.
The move by Football Federation Australia (FFA) to put the clubs themselves on notice of possible points’ deductions is the right one, though not without difficulties.
Firstly, it is critical that those prepared to act in this manner are removed from the game with life bans.
By placing the onus on the clubs, in a similar manner to what we have seen in Italy for fan violence, and elsewhere for racism as examples, means that every real fan now has a stake in ensuring the anti-football fringe is weeded out.
Each and every one of us should be crystal clear that we are not needed by the game. Not me, not you, not anyone who does not act properly in a manner that reflects well on football. We are all dispensable, because the game comes first.
Football has come too far, and 99 per cent of fans are so brilliant, that FFA needs to act now so that all understand there are larger consequences than a few fines and bans.
Holding clubs responsible for the behaviour of people wearing their jersey outside of the venue raises difficult questions, but the intent is correct to send the strongest message right now that this will not be tolerated.
An unnecessary and onerous burden on the clubs and real fans, but one we all need to support for the good of the game’s future.
When any media outlet tries to facetiously and gratuitously paint football in a negative light because of any incident found in any other sporting arena, we are quick to expose the deceit, and rightly so.
By the same token, when anyone in, or around our game acts in a way contrary to the basic standards of the Australian community, we must also be as quick, nay quicker, to act against those within who seek to damage.
Their deceit is greater, because it is portrayed as coming from within.
We rightly hold others to the highest standards, and must hold ourselves to higher.
Aside from the players, the fans are the most important part of football, but only the real fans that would build the game up, not bring it down.
The rest, we can happily do without.Continue Reading →