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Opinion

'Look at me!' Why do some football fans always make it about them?

19th December, 2022
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Expert
19th December, 2022
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Selfish and short-sighted describe the last ten days in Australian football.

The trigger to the violence we saw at AAMI Park on Saturday night was the APL’s grand final announcement the previous Monday.

The subsequent murkiness around who made, knew of and backed the decision did little more than make A-League fans more angry the longer the week played out.

The essential flaw in the APL’s decision is that locking away the grand final for three seasons in Sydney is the claim ‘tradition’ can be built, despite no certainty as to what happens after that.

In addition to the absurd possibility of a Perth Glory versus Adelaide United grand final at Allianz Stadium in Sydney, it was no surprise that supporters of the A-League, media folk and any sports fan with functioning grey matter could see that the suits at the APL and a small board of representatives within it made a financial decision.

It is a short-sighted move that does nothing in terms of building tradition and culture around the league. It is also a selfish decision, made by a group of people looking for a pat on the back from those monitoring the books and thus keeping them employed for the time being.

Personally, it was disappointing to see people stay away from A-League matches over the weekend. Plenty of well thought-out banners were held aloft and it was obvious that the players had great sympathy for the people who usually turn up and cheer them on.

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Yet being absent is likely to achieve little, with the APL headstrong in their decision.

Most who protested did so with class and dignity, while the buffoons at AAMI Park who invaded the pitch violently did exactly what far too many people who claim to be football fans do: they made it all about themselves.

There is considerable in-fighting and pecking orders within supporter groups. Foundation members claim to be a little more connected to the club than those who arrive later, the role of leadership and designated ‘capos’ cause even more disharmony, and Australian football has witnessed many splits in the ranks over the years.

Fundamentally, the psychological backdrop to the scenes we saw on the weekend and most examples of flare-throwing, violence and thuggery that pop up from time to time in the game, is one of selfishness.

Sydney United fans light a flare during the Australia Cup Final.

(Photo by Steven Markham/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Some fans appear to believe that their own interactions are more important than anyone else’s and certainly more important than the long-term health of competitions or the actual game itself.

In short, the people who took to the playing surface did so under the guise of caring about football, the A-League and the wellbeing of both, while actually playing a childish game of ‘look at me, look at me!’

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Any genuine concern for the league’s struggle to establish solid foundations in Australia would see fans determined not to drag the competition across the front pages.

Instead – thanks to a small group of people who like to appear tough and ‘ultra’ in their method of support, yet are actually cowards to the core – football has once again been sullied and this time, in a frightfully public and distasteful way.

It is an amazing mental leap from claiming to be ‘stakeholders’ and deserving of consultation before major decisions like the one around the venue of grand finals are made, and breaking the law and physically attacking people unable to defend themselves.

Somewhere out there right now, one of these idiots will be attempting to justify their behaviour, as a few did in the immediate aftermath by claiming Melbourne City goalkeeper Tom Glover had triggered their actions after returning their flare to them.

I’m not sure what else can really be said, other than the fact that fans believing they are the most important thing in the game is a dangerous state of affairs.

Saturday night was a classic example and, once again, people like you and me are left to pick up the pieces after another significant step backwards for the A-Leagues.

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