Football Australia 'horrified' at Melbourne Derby crowd unrest; promises strongest sanctions against culprits
Australian football witnessed a dark day when crowd unrest forced the Melbourne Derby to be postponed. While Football Australia has been left "horrified" by it, it has promised the strongest sanctions against the culprits.
Saturday was a dark day in Australian football, as the highly intense Melbourne Derby between Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City witnessed crowd unrest at the AAMI Park. After the latter took the lead, tempers flew high among the fans as flares were thrown on the ground. After City goalkeeper Tom Glover threw a flare into the crowd, it opened the floodgates. A group of supporters behind the goal stormed into the pitch and attacked Glover with a metal bin, leaving him with a bloodied face and a concussion. One of the flares also hit a pitchside cameraman before it exploded.
Consequently, the referee suspended the play in the 22nd minute, and eventually, the contest was called off. Meanwhile, Football Australia (FA) has taken note of the incident and is "horrified" by the incident, while chief James Johnson has promised the sternest of sanctions for the intruders. The unrest was also influenced by the Australian Premier Leagues' new decision to sell the rights for the men's and women's A-Leagues grand finals to the New South Wales government.
Johnson told the media on Sunday, "I'll start by saying that I'm horrified, irritated, angry at the scenes witnessed at AAMI Park last night. A full investigation will occur, and those responsible will face the harshest punishments. We will be moving swiftly, and we will be taking the strongest sanctions that are available."
"This is an element that goes beyond football. It's an element that infiltrates our game and tries to ruin it for the two million people who love our sport. We will be targeting those people in this investigation and who we will weed out of the sport," added Johnson, reports FotMob.
"There is no justification for the behaviour we saw last night. I don't care about people that think the decision for the GF is wrong or right. Anyone who thinks that justifies behaviour is completely out of touch. I don't call people who behave like this 'fans' and won't call them 'fans'. What is important is our response – that is simple, there is no place in our sport for that behaviour and people that act like that will be weeded out quickly," Johnson continued.
"The way that some individuals conducted themselves at the Melbourne Victory game is not acceptable, and I think that is specific to that match. I don't think that it is a reflection of the broader game. We're the biggest sports country in terms of participants. This does not happen in local football. It doesn't happen at the national team level. It doesn't happen at the NPL level, and it hasn't happened in the other A-League games," estimated Johnson.
"I don't think that a group of individuals that participated in unacceptable behaviour in one match reflects how the broader sport is. The small group of people, the 100-150 odd people that invaded the pitch, need to be the target, not the broader sport. We will be targeting those individuals and ensuring that they no longer participate in our sport," Johnson concluded.