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FFA and VicPol show lack of understanding

Roar Rookie
5th February, 2011
58
3595 Reads
 Melbourne Victory fans celebrate with the team. AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill

Melbourne Victory fans celebrate with the team. AAP Image/Andrew Brownbill

I come bearing dire news on the state of affairs in football, especially in Melbourne. Cast your mind back to season two of the A-League when Fred, Archie and Danny tore apart all in their path and you will remember the hordes of fanatical active supporters in the Melbourne terraces.

The colour, noise and excitement generated by these supporters was the envy of every sporting team of every code in the nation. One would think that this beautiful exponent of ‘the beautiful game’ was a sign of a rosy future for the code…

However, as we look now at the events of the past few weeks after the last Melbourne derby it has become evident that active support is misunderstood and a wedge is being driven between the fans and the clubs.

There has been lots of media attention concentrating on the relationship between VicPol and active support, especially Melbourne’s northern terrace relating to flares, foul language and physical violence. This came to a head at the Victory versus Gold Coast game, where a brawl broke out between supporters, police and security. The northern terrace held a protest at the midweek game stressing their importance to the club and the league as a whole and their desire to be treated as loyal and devoted fans rather than customers.

All in all, this is very bad publicity that has taken away from Melbourne Victory’s resurgence and great form heading into the finals period in a town where the contract of Tom Scully attracts more attention than the last Victory fixture.

Thus, what is to be done and who is at fault?

Firstly, it is my opinion that the FFA and VicPol show a massive lack of understanding for the passion and active culture exhibited by active support across the league. The FFA is not used to such behaviour, and the VicPol seem to crack down on the slightest and most trivial discretion.

The clearest example of this was when fliers that had a new chant on them were being circulated through the terrace and VicPol confiscated them. They also tore down a pre-match ‘tifo’ at the derby on the grounds that flares may be lit under them.

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I have seen police officers assault fans for no good reason as they abuse their rights and responsibilities as protectors of society. FFA should embrace such dedication especially when crowd figures are getting lower, not persecuting their supporters. Also, VicPol need to stop inciting riots and allow supporters to actually support their team.

On the other hand, supporters are also to blame. As a member of the northern terrace, I have never heard any member of the hierarchy endorse flares at home games. However, there are a idiotic few who defy convention and light flares. But, there have only been flares at five or six games this season from Victory fans, with two of those being away games. Bottles being thrown by 14-year-old children who do not comprehend the consequences if they hit a police officer are also a problem.

There needs to a be a memorandum of understanding made between the FFA, clubs, authorities from all states and active supporter groups to nut out what is and is not allowed to be done during fixtures. Therefore, VicPol especially cannot be heavy-handed in their approach and cause more problems than they solve. Every supporter of an A-League team is to be cherished as a fan, not a consumer and to be accommodated for within certain boundaries. Let’s not lose the colour that makes our game so unique within the Australian sporting landscape.

On a side note, at the midweek game, with the 50-odd police surrounding the 11,000 people at the game and no reported violence and one flare lit, could our tax dollars be better spent?

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