The SportingJournal

Australian Soccer fan problem or media pump up?

Once again.. I’m left disappointed after Australia’s media yet again beat up another small A-League fan incident.

The fiasco follows violent behaviour which erupted outside a Melbourne pub between a group of Western Sydney Wanderer and Melbourne Victory fans, as well as “antisocial” behaviour during the game in Melbourne last month.

Both clubs were given up to 5.00pm today to appeal the penalties given by Hyundai A-League head Damien de Bohun which resulted in a 3 point deduction for both teams after fans brought the game into disrepute.

Although I do not condone any of the incidences which were conducted by both groups of fans, I am left confused wondering how some media journalists have compared these actions to hooligans considering themselves as an army locked in combat?

I think that hyperbole speaks for itself, it’s more overplayed than when I describe a goal I score in futsal to my friends.

In an incident that reached the front page of the Herald Sun and caused such uproar, I was surprised to see that there were no arrests made and only eight fans ejected during the match.

Whilst both AFL fans and football fans are both equally as passionate for their code, they cannot be compared and expected to behave in the same way at matches.

Football clubs have always had active support areas which consist of fans constantly chanting and displaying banners or visuals throughout the game providing atmosphere for fans.

Research undertaken by Fox sports commentator Simon Hill found that an average of 3.25 people per game were evicted from Melbourne Victory home games under an average attendance of 23,610.

Now compare this with AFL games at Etihad Stadium in 2012 which found a total of 210 evictions over 47 games – an average of just over 4 per game. The 2012 Grand Final saw 40 evictions and 12 arrests with no mention in any paper.

Is the AFL going under the radar whilst the A-League cops all of the negative publicity?

The “infamous” Western Sydney Wanderers group “Red Black Bloc” (RBB) are often portrayed as hooligans in the media… If you ignore the negative headlines and tabloid style hyperbole, the RBB have brought together a wide community creating a better future for Australian citizens.

The RBB have recently been involved in a Bushfire appeal which raised $15,000 and a Christmas Drive called “Life Without Barriers”, which provides support to Australians in need. But of course we don’t hear about this in any of the papers not to mention the Herald Sun because its not “newsworthy”.

I believe that A-League fans should have the right to voice their active support in any way they like as long as it doesn’t cause harm to any other fans or condone violence. This small minority that cause violence are adding fuel to the fire for football critics in Australia.

For the critics that think small incidences like these will kill our game, think again…..

700,000 players are registered with FFA clubs not to mention the unregistered players that play the game for fun. Our game will also once again see thousands of Australians flock into the city in the late hours of the night to support our Socceroos on the big screen this year for the World Cup in Brasil.

For any person who hasn’t watched an A-League game live. I urge you to ignore the media hype and attend your nearest home game and you will realise that 99 percent of the fans are a family friendly crowd and provide an entertaining atmosphere for all involved.

It is important that football lovers and passionate supporters know where to draw the line so our game can continue to grow and be accepted by Australians looking to support an A-League club. We can’t let these bias critics win and continue to portray our fans as hooligans when the majority are not…

By Ari Charilaou – Photos – Keith Moore/TSJ

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