New rules target fan hooliganism

Horrified by the Bourke Street brawl between fans on December 28, the lighting of numerous flares at the AAMI Park match and the media outcry it sparked, Football Federation Australia has brought in new measures to tighten security for “active supporters” of Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory.

Under the new rules, designed to more rigorously police the zones within the ground where the clubs’ most zealous fans gather, only club members will be entitled to purchase tickets into active-supporter areas.

“Each member will be entitled to purchase one ticket for their own use. The measures will apply to home-and-away matches,” the FFA said in a statement on Saturday.

The move is designed to prevent the sort of scenes that provoked embarrassing coverage on television and in the papers following the post-Christmas match between the two clubs.

Numerous charges were laid as a result of the incidents.

The game’s governing body is aware of the growing climate condemning street violence, particularly in Sydney, following the latest death from a so-called king hit in the city, and is fearful of further damage to the image of the sport.

The measures are being introduced for a trial period and will start after the round 18 games.

“Additional measures to ensure the safe conduct of A-League matches will be in place in accordance with the risk profile of the match, including increased bag checks,” the FFA said.

A-League boss Damien de Bohun said the trial measures had been put in place after tighter strictures were adopted for the Victory-Wanderers game, which took place at AAMI Park – a couple of weeks after the Bourke Street brawl – on January 14.

That passed almost without incident, although it was a midweek fixture, not one played during the Christmas holiday period.

“The measures worked smoothly and ensured the active-supporter areas were reserved for members who represented their clubs as genuine fans should,” de Bohun said.

“The trial is squarely aimed at preventing troublemakers using the active areas to engage in antisocial behaviour that affects the enjoyment of others and damages the reputation of the clubs and the game.

“FFA has worked closely with state police forces, security contractors and stadium managers on a range of security measures. We are all absolutely determined to make sure an A-League experience has a unique atmosphere in a family-friendly environment.”

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