Some may say that it’s a light slap on the wrist, giving that the Red and Black Bloc are repeat offenders of the law. Some may say that it’s too harsh, given that Tony Popovic’s Western Sydney Wanderers reached the pinnacle of Asian club football not too long ago. We here at The Stoppage Time believe, however, that Football Federation Australia got it right.
The Wanderers were fined $50,000 and docked three competition points after the RBB let off detonators and flares at Etihad Stadium against Melbourne Victory last weekend. Football Federation Australia has also announced it will be establishing a National Flare Management Policy, which will be part of the Fan Banning Process review to be considered by the FFA Board later this month.
“The events of last Saturday night and the coordinated misconduct of a section of Western Sydney Wanderers fans cannot be tolerated by anyone in Australian football,” said FFA CEO David Gallop. “The misconduct was not only dangerous and threatening but the coordinated and calculated way the fans behaved was a serious blight on the reputation of football and everyone involved in our game including clubs, members, fans, players and officials.
“The sanctions have been set taking into consideration the seriousness of the incidents but a clear commitment both publicly and through its submission that the Wanderers will take responsibility for implementing a clear strategy to identify and exclude these individuals.
“The Western Sydney Wanderers and the vast majority of Wanderers fans have expressed their disdain at the behaviour of the perpetrators on Saturday night and must now work together to rid their club of these troublemakers who threaten the huge support the club has brought to the competition. While the club has put a number of measures in place it goes without saying that more needs to be done. The timing of the incident was frustrating for everyone who has been working collectively on a new banning process to deal with the type of behaviour that was on show last Saturday night.”
“The use of flares and associated devices at sporting events are extremely dangerous, illegal and have no place in Australian football. We are putting a line in the sand. If these people are true football fans they will understand and appreciate their actions will hurt the clubs they claim to support.”
Greek-Australian John Tsatsimas is the Chief Executive of the Wanderers and was pleased with the resolution of the whole ordeal.
“We have always been consistent in our stance on anti-social behaviour and use of flares – that is one of zero tolerance,” said Tsatsimas. “We have 18,000 members who represent our club and our region in a fantastic manner who are being tarnished by the few selfish and narcissistic individuals who are tearing down all our community has created as a Club.
“Our players, staff and members, all of whom have contributed so much to what has been a successful season so far, are all wholeheartedly affected by this outcome and as such we now require new methods and renewed support from our faithful members and fans who want to see our teams and our Club succeed. This issue is not isolated to our Club and requires a whole of game response to not just reduce, but eliminate the incidence of flares and anti-social behaviour inside and outside our football matches.
“Those that have brought our Club and our game into disrepute have now forced us to have to introduce some new stricter measures in consultation with the FFA, other clubs, police, venues and security for all of our away matches as well as increasing our attention to home matches to avoid any further negative impact on our Club and our fantastic members. We implore all of our members to stand together to ensure we do not receive further sanctions and to assist in fixing this problem for good.”