Strict li­a­bil­ity is game’s big ques­tion but hav­ing strict ac­count­abil­ity may be the an­swer

Swedish FA show the way by dish­ing out de­feats

Daily Record - - SPORT - BY CRAIG SWAN

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

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