Strict liability is game’s big question but having strict accountability may be the answer
Swedish FA show the way by dishing out defeats
There has to be a consequence to your fans’ behaviour on the pitch TOBIAS TIBELL
SWEDISH FA legal eagle Tobias Tibell believes the example of IFK Gothenburg is a way for Scottish football to try to crack down on the current spate of abysmal fan behaviour.
Four days ago director Max Markusson had to swallow the bitterest pill possible.
His team’s derby last Monday against GAIS was abandoned by referee Glenn Nyberg after fireworks aimed on to the pitch by IFK yobs exploded beside keeper Marko Johansson and left him with ear damage.
The punishment was brutal. Markusson and his club were forced to accept a 3-0 defeat as the match was awarded to GAIS.
It was the nightmare outcome of a derby contest yet the message was sincere when Markusson said: “It is absolutely right decision that GAIS is awarded the victory.
“We accept the board’s decision without objection as we must clarify to the persons responsible for the misconduct the negative consequences their actions bring to the club.”
It’s not strict liability in Sweden. But there’s a strict accountability.
Three years ago the Swedish FA awarded Malmo a 3-0 victory over Gothenburg after their game was abandoned when home fans threw a firework at a visiting substitute.
It was 0-0 after 77 minutes when the firecracker exploded under the feet of Malmo winger Tobias Sana who responded by hurling a corner flag at the culprits.
After the decision to hand the win to Malmo, Sweden’s major clubs asked for an opportunity to have a second chance when matches are abandoned. Tweaking the rules in 2017 opened an avenue for the clubs to complete their match at a later stage. But still the spectre of a potential 3-0 defeat looms. And Tibell believes the mechanisms put in place by the Swedish FA are at least sending a warning to fans their heroes will pay the price if they step badly out of line. In a worrrying time for Scottish football where hooliganism is spiralling with bottles, coins and flares launched towards players and officials and seats ripped out and fired at each other by opposing fans, listening to the experiences of others is key to helping find solutions. Tibell knows how much it would hurt Celtic or Rangers to accept a 3-0 defeat to their bitter rivals if their fans turned dark during a game. And he pointed to the IFK response as he outlined the procedures he hopes are working towards making things better across the North Sea. Tibell said: “It was a very professional decision from IFK Gothenburg. They have taken this situation very seriously and behaved in a proper manner. The referee took the players from the pitch. Then our regulations say we have a match meeting. “At that point, the match delegate is the head of that meeting. He has representatives from the police, from the two competing clubs and the officials. “They then discuss if
there is a possibility to go on with the match that day or the next day.
“Initially, the decision was taken that the match should be completed the next day at 2pm. Then GAIS changed their opinion on that because their goalkeeper was injured due to the firework going off beside his ear.
“They contacted the association and said they would not play because the injury was caused by the Gothenburg fans and the sporting integrity was not what it should be and they wouldn’t play the match.
“We had a possible walkover situation because GAIS would not have completed the match. But Gothenburg said they were not interested in winning by a walkover.
“They said they would try to find a later time to play the game. But GAIS said it would not matter what time was found, they would not be attending it.
“At that point, we handed the game to our disciplinary board. They decided that because the game was stopped because of the actions of the Gothenburg fans, it said in our regulations that GAIS must be decided to be the winning team by a scoreline of 3-0.”
Sweden want to be strong. The pyros and bottles thrown on to the pitch at Easter Road during the Hibs v Celtic match isn’t unlike what happened in Gothenburg v GAIS.
Earlier this season, when Premiership official Calum Spence’s head was split open by a coin he got a bandage put on it and carried on. Yet when linesman Daniel Warnmark was struck by a firecracker during a meeting of Syrianska and AIK Stockholm in 2011 the game was immediately abandoned.
Tibell explained that relaxing the rules slightly in the wake of the IFK/Malmo incident was to try to help clubs sort fans out themselves.
He said: “There are different ideas about how to deal with such things.
“Two years ago, there was a big discussion among the elite clubs in Sweden and they said we have to proceed with the matches if possible and decide them any way we can on the field and not in an office.
“So then we changed our regulations. We looked at the ways to try to get the matches decided on the pitch.
“But of course there are situations where you can’t proceed with the game. For example, the situation we had last Monday night in Gothenburg. Before 2016, we had some bigger incidents. We’re struggling with it to get nil every year.” But the message seems simple. Misbehave and ultimately you could lose.
Tibell added: “We want games decided on the pitch. But if the security situation does not allow that, there has to be consequences for your fans’ misbehaviour in the stands.
“Something has to happen and the match has to be decided – and these are the rules we have set up.”
SHOCKING Sana reacts after the firecracker explodes, flares in Gothenburg, right, and Willie Collum removes thrown bottle from the pitch at Easter Road, below