Cul­ture of fans is called by snap­per

Shepparton News - - SOCCER -

A-League pow­er­house Mel­bourne Vic­tory faces ques­tions over its fan cul­ture after a sec­ond abu­sive in­ci­dent in as many weeks.

A man was stripped of his club mem­ber­ship after mak­ing a racist at­tack on so­cial me­dia to­wards Western Syd­ney player Tarek El­rich last week.

On Sat­ur­day, when Vic­tory wel­comed the New­cas­tle Jets to AAMI Park, a pho­tog­ra­pher was al­legedly sub­jected to ho­mo­pho­bic slurs from the crowd.

Free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher and jour­nal­ist Matt John­son said he was abused by a mem­ber of a large group of fans, say­ing the lan­guage was de­signed to make him ‘‘feel like s**t’’.

‘‘I froze, paral­ysed by some­one try­ing to be­lit­tle me while do­ing my job,’’ he wrote on Twit­ter.

‘‘While (ho­mo­pho­bic slurs) have been dis­missed as ban­ter in the past, it’s now 2019. This stuff doesn’t be­long in sport, so­ci­ety, any­where. It’s not on.’’

On Sun­day, the club was made aware of John­son’s posts and was asked for a re­sponse.

Yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, a club spokesman said Vic­tory ‘‘would re­quire more in­for­ma­tion be­fore we make com­ment’’ and would look into the in­ci­dent.

John­son said he had been heart­ened by the sup­port from peo­ple in the sport, in­clud­ing PFA deputy chair­woman and for­mer Matilda Kathryn Gill, since mak­ing the post.

Un­for­tu­nately, A-League sup­port­ers have form when it comes to ho­mo­pho­bic abuse.

The most prom­i­nent dis­play came from Western Syd­ney fan group Red and Black Bloc, which un­veiled a ban­ner of then Syd­ney FC coach Gra­ham Arnold com­mit­ting a sex act dur­ing a Fe­bru­ary 2017 derby.

The Wan­der­ers and FFA con­demned the ban­ner, but the RBB never apol­o­gised.

Vic­tory, who sits sec­ond on the ta­ble after the 2-1 win over the Jets, play Bris­bane at Sun­corp Sta­dium tonight.

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