On Friday night the third and final Melbourne derby was played out, with the game ending 2-1 to Melbourne City.
Football fans of all codes in Australia can be broken down into percentages. They are made of families, “the boys”, “the girls”, couples, individuals, those with millions of dollars and not too many worries, those with millions of worries and not too many dollars.
There are the die-hards and the infamously Roy Keane-titles “prawn sandwich brigade.
All have something in common though and that is, an interest at some level, on what is taking place on the grass in front of them.
The Herald Sun has taken a particularly harsh brush to the football (soccer) supporters in Melbourne. The Victoria Police provide the paint and the idea for a portrait of what Super Intendant Rod Wilson describes “that police were reluctant to cover Melbourne Victory games after being assaulted by fans” and that “Wilson said local soccer fans were the worst-behaved because of their violence, anti-social behaviour and lighting of flares.”
The problem is intensified by old soccer’s supposed and sometimes accurate sordid past and the Herald Sun, seeing an opportunity to appeal to its masses of Australian football-loving readership ran a story that is out of proportion to what the facts are.
Despite the low level, Mark Riley-style (Channel 7 reporter who confronted Tony Abbott), ambush journalism that we so often see from the News Limited papers in all states, it doesn’t stop the fact that many of the critics of the article and indeed supporters of football (soccer) in Australia were quick to scream and moan.
Immediately, the twitter-sphere was awash with Craig Foster, Francis Leach, and other football supporters crying foul of the Herald Sun and the Victoria Police. If the article was out to draw a reaction, it had delivered.
An avalanche of outrage directed at the Sun and the police has been run all day through various regulation and social medias.
The problem I have is the leveling that A-League supporters have felt they need to do. Certainly there is violence at AFL matches.
Yes, I have seen a fan hit another fan, both, supporters of the same team and opposition supporters. I don’t condone this behavior either.
However, the simple fact is that football (soccer) fans in Australia still feel the need to bring flares along to some games and set them off. This does not happen in the AFL. Flares draw attention – they make good pictures on the news. Also, what never happens in the AFL is the chanting in unison by the crowd as in the example via the link of Melbourne Victory supporters, “All cops are bastards.”
The way that football people jump up and down saying it’s the AFL with an agenda or that the AFL is trying to set an agenda in the mainstream media is childish and looking for something to blame.
Address your own issues. Flares are banned and enforcing the ban obviously doesn’t always work. Encourage supporters not to bring them in, encourage supporters to respect the police.
I certainly don’t believe the Herald Sun article to be a 100 per cent portrayal of all football fans. It’s a stereotype.
Unfortunately for Mr Foster and company, passion is one thing, abuse of authorities and using flares is another thing all together. This can be controlled.
However, it seems that the authorities including the Victory’s Geoff Lord want to blame everyone else but themselves.