Now's the time to act over football violence

HAVING lived in England in the 1970s and 1980s, I know exactly what damage hooliganism can do to the name of football.

Because the powers-that-be did not react quickly enough to troublemakers, hooliganism sadly spread to international matches, with the thugs that "supported" England causing mayhem across Europe and around the world.

Thankfully it now appears to have been taken out of the game in the UK, but I still think it is only bubbling under the surface and it would only take one incident to spark it off again.

That is why I was glad to see the stance taken by Football Federation Australia regarding the fight between Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers fans last month.

A statement, both figuratively and literally, to both sets of fans and other supporters across Australia, and to the two clubs, had to be made to say the FFA and police would not tolerate these acts of violence.

The proposed sanction is that both Victory and the Wanderers would lose three points, suspended until the end of this season.

While I think that is the right way to go - the clubs have to be made accountable - I just wonder whether three points is enough of a deterrent for these so-called fans.

If clubs lost 12 points or were dropped out of finals if already qualified that might make more of a statement and might just make fans think twice about their actions.

The trouble is that from my experience of hooliganism in the UK, is that these people who purport to be football fans are really not.

They are just interested in making trouble and use clubs as a way to organise violence.

In the 1970s and 1980s it was organised, but was also more a spur-of-the-moment thing.

Now with mobile phones and other ways of communicating, the leaders of these groups can organise where to meet almost instantly.

The FFA is doing its bit to try to put and end to the trouble, and I like the way FFA chief executive David Gallop has handled the growing problem so far.

"The loss of points that have been won fairly on the pitch is a harsh penalty, but it's in equal measure to the enormous damage caused by the type of anti-social behaviour seen in Melbourne last Saturday," he said.

"The troublemakers are hurting the club they claim to support. They need to understand that the consequences of their reckless conduct will be felt on the A-League competition table if trouble persists."

Gallop said that true fans would never dream of damaging their club's best interests.

"I have great sympathy for the overwhelming majority of fans who like me are sickened by the misconduct of a few, but it's time to make the consequences clear to everyone," he said.

"We want a safe, enjoyable and family-friendly environment in the A-League. That's why we are taking this action. We are absolutely determined to rid the game of the type of behaviour was saw in Melbourne." The point is, the ones causing the trouble are not true fans and until the powers that be realise it's a social thing and not just a football problem then they will struggle to put an end to the disease which could soon become a blight on Australian football.



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