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We are not criminals.

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I find myself writing anger-induced articles again when I should be studying for my HSC; if I don’t make university, I know who to blame though. Earlier, the Herald Sun happily announced to their frothing, neck-beared audience that “Soccer clubs [and] police crack down on hooligans at Melbourne games.” On the eve of biting arguments between the Northern Terrace and BWB, as well as the club itself, the unbelievable specifics of proposed measures have been released in all of their terrifying detail.

Before I drill into these Orwellian and ridiculous systems, let me first present you with some real quotes. No, not quotes I made up after reading “1984” and pondering what football must be like in communist, North Korea. Words right out of the too-often-open mouth of the Herald Sun and, I’m sure, Victorian Police.

“SNIFFER dogs will be used to search for flares, video analysts sent to high-risk matches to track known offenders and rogue supporter groups targeted by clubs in an unprecedented crackdown on Victorian soccer hooligans.”

“a stronger push for court prosecutions for feral fans”

“A DEDICATED police investigations team headed by a high-ranking detective formed to probe all criminal incidents at A-League matches”

“ban flags and banners of splinter supporter groups in the stands, clamping down on the association of rogue fans”

“DOB-a-yobbo text messaging hotlines for matches”

“IMPROVED CCTV and video monitoring of fans.”

“we’re going to do whatever we can to ensure we provide a safe environment for supporters, families and kids who come along to watch sport.”

“If successful, the Victorian model is expected to become a national action plan for controlling soccer crowds with the FFA to meet NSW Police, agencies, venues and teams next week.”

“The police Public Order Response team will regularly attend matches along with uniform and plain clothes officers, targeting public order and alcohol-related violence.”

So, where do we buy our mandatory swastikas?

Football fans in this country are repeatedly treated like animals. Our crowds are reported time and time again as free-for-all riots, unsafe for any respectable AFL watching family. You’ve heard it all before, from myself and others, about how the media treats our sport. It’s a new level of disgusting when the police themselves have jumped on board the HMS Screw Soccer.

So what is their reasoning for cracking down on the blight that is soccer crowds? There were surely hundreds of arrests made at last years packed Grand Final? The truth is, there weren’t even enough for the sea of vicious, piranha-esque journalists to make a story out of – I can’t find a thing. So, why don’t we take a look at one game which they did make a lot of noise about – last year’s Sydney Derby. That was a disaster, they should’ve arrested the entire crowd. Unfortunately, NSW Police only found excuses to arrest three in the crowd of just under thirty thousand. I must be fair… let’s go back to the Melbourne Derby in 2011 where a whopping sixteen people were evicted; it is, in fact, Melbourne crowds that the Victorian police are so concerned with. What about last year’s derby? They improved slightly, but still deserve some sort of concentration camp after twelve evictions for public disorder. The packed final between Melbourne and Perth Glory saw six people sent packing, prompting the Victorian police to literally consider “an unprecedented crackdown on soccer hooligans, including possibly banning them from attending AFL matches.”

You can see why we have a problem, can’t you? I’ve been saying for quite some time that now’s a better time than ever for the always reliable denunciation campaign… I mean, Dob a Yobbo system. If only soccer crowds were as family-friendly as their AFL counterparts.

Well, let me hit you with some facts, mouth-breathing hordes of Herald Sun worshippers.

After Freo’s loss in the AFL the other week, nineteen arrests were made in Perth alone; not even in the stadium. Let’s hope the fourty four year old who got punched in the face by a nineteen year old is recovering well. Four more are being summoned for charges of assaulting a police officer, let’s not forget them. What about inside the stadium? Well, 35 were arrested, but at least the police were “happy”. Better than the AFL final a few years ago when 47 were arrested. Should I dive into the blight of racism, such as the thirteen year old girl who called Adam Goodes an “ape”? St Kilda veteran, Steven Milne, earlier this year pleaded for the AFL to stamp out on crowd abuse in the AFL. He declared in an interview, ”People go to the footy and take their kids to the footy. I wouldn’t put [them] in the Collingwood cheer squad or the Port Adelaide cheer squad,”

They’re no angels… where are the FBI crack-units?

Look, I don’t want to make this an AFL vs Football thing; this isn’t some sort of code war, no matter how much the Herald Sun wants it to be. However, it’s absolutely clear that soccer crowds are by no means the Iraqi battlefield police are making them out to be. In fact, AFL crowds are arguably worse. So why are the police wasting tax payer’s money and wasting their time on setting up “dedicated police investigation teams”, sniffer dogs and video analysts? Why is it their crusade to create a “family-friendly” environment at football games, when they’re the ones causing friction?

Nobody wants violent or “anti-social” behaviour at any sporting event, but there will inevitably be a minuscule minority of those not on their best behaviour, within any grouping of thousands of people. This is no excuse to turn a family-friendly sporting environment into a police state, federal crackdown. Because, believe it or not, A-League crowds are family friendly and, believe it or not, the police have better things to do.

Follow me on Twitter: @userlastname

About Daniel Palmer (50 Articles)
Daniel is a longtime fan of football, and more recently a passionate Western Sydney Wanderers kid and a proud member of the RBB. Hosts FTSAUS Podcast. Has a valid and interesting opinion about Australian Football. His lifelong dream is to be pre-game presenter at Parramatta Stadium. Follow on Twitter: @userlastname
Contact: Twitter
  • Brodie

    Wouldn’t 19 arrests in Perth on a Saturday night be considered fairly normal?

  • Paul Paul

    So your basic argument is that other sports have it so it’s fine. I think it’s fairly clear you don’t like AFL, can’t wait to read your article about them causing global warming too.

    • James

      No, his argument is that that police are massively overreacting and that the media are reporting on minor incidents as if there’s some greater and widespread problem with violence in football/soccer.

      If you compare the number of incidents at AFL games or the cricket to the A-League, it’s clear that there are far less arrests and incidents (both in raw numbers and % terms).

    • jimmy

      Paul my friend you missed the whole point. Maybe get a special ed teacher to explain.