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A-League: Active supporters must police their own; ground security must lift their game

In Australian culture nobody likes a dobber, but sometimes, even the most loyal mates have to do the right thing.

Flare-ripping and violence instigated by so-called soccer fans – mainly of Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers – are not trival matters. They generate negative headlines for the clubs concerned, they cause massive problems for the sport’s governing body and are, potentially, dangerous actions that could cause serious injury.

As Victory coach Kevin Muscat said at the weekend, there is no place for such supporters at his – or any – football club and that it is about time those fans “grew up”.

Alas, when we grow up, we are still confronted by the cultural taboo; people are loathe to “sell their mates out” – even when the transgressions are serious.

But there must come a time when even the most loyal friends have to do the right thing, when the good of the public far outweighs mateship.

Supporters must play their part in identifying those who rip flares and tarnish their club’s reputation.

If they know someone in the crowd has flares, they must challenge them, let them know the consequences of their action. If this is too confronting, then they must inform the authorities as soon as possible.

The events of the past two weeks have been a massive fail across the board for the security companies employed at stadia. And Melbourne Victory, which must surely have a hot list of “persons of interest”, could presumably do more to single out and monitor the behaviour of people it knows are potential troublemakers

The active supporters, the self-proclaimed leaders of chanting, singing and fan activity at grounds, must

put up or shut up.

The FFA did the right thing by active supporters when it met with leaders of most groups late last year to hammer out new responses and rights of appeal to the controversial banning process which has seen 198 supporters barred from games.

Eight of the 10 A-League active supporter groups met with the FFA during the review. Only the supporter groups of Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory abstained from being interviewed but will be covered by the findings.

Those new guidelines were released, coincidentally, on Monday, just as the FFA was issuing a show-cause notice to Victory as to why they should not incur fines and/or points deductions for the actions of a minority of their fans last Saturday.

Now Active Fans must show leadership and help police their own area.

Of course there are many other factors at play in this sorry situation, but the game itself wears the collateral damage in a ritual being played out by (largely) young men hellbent on violence not enjoyment of the game. .

As Victory fans were quick to point out at the weekend, it is a minority,. Yet the majority face punishment.

How can the security companies at stadia put in a bill for their services when flares are being carried in? What on earth are they doing?

More often it seems they make a cursory inspection of a bag to check for food and drink, the overwhelming impression being they want to ensure no one takes in their own so that the concessionaires at stadia have a clear run to sell their expensive merchandise.

Victory officials say they rarely hear of searches being carried out or flares impounded before games. What if someone wanted to take in explosives, just to make a bigger bang?

Stadium security may have to carry out body searches and pat-downs to search for flares strapped to legs or hidden under clothing or handed to grandma.

Delays would be inevitable, but that’s how the majority might have to pay for the stupidity of the minority. Perhaps then peer group pressure will have an impact.

Victory officials have pledged to root out the “mindless idiots”. They need to use television images, CCTV footage, whatever is required, to take swift and punitive action.

There is no place for these hooligans at football matches. Through their actions they have proven one thing: they are not football fans.

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