No jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for let­ting off flares, it is a crim­i­nal of­fence

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FOOTBALL - ROBBIE SLATER ER FOR­MER SOC­CEROO

THE anti-so­cial be­hav­iour of a hand­ful of Wan­der­ers fans just gives oxy­gen to those peo­ple who don’t be­lieve foot­ball is an Aus­tralian sport. That’s the re­al­ity. Let­ting off flares at a foot­ball match is a crim­i­nal act. I don’t care how some peo­ple might be try­ing to de­fend it, it’s stupid, it’s not wanted and, most im­por­tantly, it’s il­le­gal. That’s all there is to it.

Af­ter last Sun­day’s Syd­ney derby at Al­lianz Sta­dium, we should have been talk­ing about the bril­liant crowd which turned up to watch in the pour­ing rain and of the won­der­ful per­for­mance of Syd­ney FC, whose star play­ers Adrian Mierzejewski, Bobo and Mi­los Ninkovic are, at times, breath­tak­ing to watch.

In­stead, we’re talk­ing about flares and anti-so­cial ban­ners aimed at the po­lice and Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Aus­tralia. I don’t want to see images on the back page of The Daily Tele­graph of a man stick­ing his fin­ger up to our game — it’s those images that make peo­ple view foot­ball as unAus­tralian.

Those mem­bers of the RBB have let down the rest of the club’s fans, the ma­jor­ity of whom have been su­perb dur­ing what’s been a dif­fi­cult sea­son for the Wan­der­ers.

On the field, it’s taken the team time to ad­just to a new coach, all while their sta­dium is be­ing re­built and they are es­sen­tially no­mads. But the fans have gone to ANZ Sta­dium, they’ve gone to Spot­less Stadi- um, in their numbers to sup­port their team.

For the play­ers, it’s dis­ap­point­ing that there will be no ac­tive sup­port dur­ing a cru­cial part of the sea­son. The RBB does cre­ate a won­der­ful at­mos­phere and the Wan­der­ers need all the sup­port they can get, es­pe­cially at home, as they chase a top-six fin­ish. The RBB can still buy tick­ets and sit in other parts of the sta­dium and

hope­fully they do that. The club was bril­liant in its re­sponse to the flares and acted swiftly to pun­ish the RBB by clos­ing the ac­tive sup­port area for to­day’s match against Perth Glory. It was the rea­son the Wan­der­ers es­caped an im­me­di­ate points de­duc­tion, which would have been un­fair on the play­ers and coach­ing staff.

In­stead, they’ve got another sus­pended points de­duc­tion hang­ing over their heads.

It’s a shame be­cause the RBB has re­ally changed the game, more of­ten than not for the bet­ter. They’ve brought such a unique at­mos­phere to matches and, at times, per­haps FFA has been harsh on them. But you sim­ply can­not have anti-so­cial and il­le­gal be­hav­iour at games.

Sim­ple as that.

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