In 2011, Rod Wilson, then-victorian Herald police superintendent, and Australian soccer’s governing body Football Federation Australia were warn by me not to amplify the actions of a few trouble football fans by inappropriately labelling them as hooligans in the media.
In particular, I highlighted the outsider image of Australian football and my concern at the labeling of hooliganism all spectator disorderliness at soccer matches. I also tried to explain how these characterisations might help to create, escalate, and sustain violence at football games. My research over many years into similar problems in Europe from 1863 to today informed my advice. I ended by pointing out a path forward for authorities.
Let’s hope the Victoria Police reconsider their A-League 2011/12 Season Policing Strategy. To do so, they would recognize that collective violence is a type of conversation between its participants. This cannot be stop by punishing loutish behaviour and suppressing violent ideas.
Since 2011, many things have changed. Many things have changed since 2011. Many things have not changed, however. The problem continues at the same level it did in 2011. Perhaps tens of thousands, if not hundreds, of supporters are being arrest and evict every game. The clubs, the governing body and the Victorian police are now making similar statements as in 2011.
Shift In Melbourne’s Herald Sun’s
We are witnessing a shift in Melbourne’s Herald Sun’s editorial agenda. While The Age and (to a certain degree) The Australian have been relatively silent on the issue or gone to great lengths to emphasize how the problem is limit to a few supporters, The Herald Sun seems determine to create an image of soccer that excludes Australian culture and its supporters. Rita Panahi (a Herald Sun opinion columnist) passionately stated it.
Let’s clarify, soccer is the name of this sport in the United States. Football is play on an oval field with an oval ball. One editorial attempts to create a divide between soccer and Australian Rules Football by referring to soccer’s violent Culture as opposed to other football codes. This behaviour is unique to soccer’s A League that we are led to believe.
A football fan who cheers on his team at AFL matches one day could become an aggressive and abusive thug at soccer matches the next. Herald Sun readers are often told by the Herald Sun that soccer is full of simpleton lovers and dim-witted semiliterates who use harebrained rationality because their perpetual states of outrage always leads to an aggressive ugliness that must have rooted in a deep feeling of inadequacy. All this from a woman who calls herself a quintessential soccer mom.
Melbourne Victory Soccer
We hear all this hatredful speech because, at Melbourne Victory soccer matches, we were told that the stadium suffered damage that simply does not occur at AFL or NRL, Super Rugby, cricket games, or at AFL, NRL and Super Rugby. According to Rita Panahi, you don’t see other fans acting in such a way. The majority of AFL fans will turn against someone who causes trouble during a game.
Are you really? Simon Hill, Fox Sports’ soccer commentator, has done the math and came up with these numbers. This year, there were 36 evictions at Melbourne Victory games. On average, 3.25 per match. An average attendance of 23,610 This doesn’t seem like an epidemic. These figures are similar to those for all AFL games at Etihad Stadium in 2012. There were 210 evictions in total for 47 games in 2012, an average of just under 4 per game.
No matter what your opinion, the Herald Sun doesn’t seem to value its readers when it comes soccer. They don’t give them historical, factual or conceptually-informed ones.