Thursday, November 15, 2007


Who's Afraid? - brief update #11

The fan violence in Italy over the last week is certainly attracting its share of international attention, and combined with the over-hyped events at Telstra Dome last weekend, there are plenty of opportunities for local columnists to use the general theme as a comfortable riff. Step forward Paul Sheehan, one of Fairfax's resident right-wing contrarians, and a rusted-on rugby union man (see, for instance, this piece of cringeworthy claptrap).

The football world according to Sheehan:

Clearly, there are too many stupid, violent peasants involved in Italian football.

Tongue-in-cheek? Well, you'd hope so, but there certainly doesn't appear to be any indication of irony in the subsequent paragraph. Perhaps I'm missing the subtlety.

There's certainly no irony in this little syllogism:

It's a soccer thing. There's never been any crowd trouble at rugby World Cups, despite the amount of boozing that seems integral to rugby culture. It's rare in American sports and in Australia.

The sheer fatuity of the logic is breathtaking. Perhaps Mr. Sheehan hasn't noticed that his beloved rugby has a comparatively tiny and almost exclusively middle-class audience, that the football World Cup (as opposed to domestic club matches) is similarly free of violence, and that the U.S. and Australia have levels of affluence that tend, for obvious reasons, to keep fan violence in any sport to manageable levels.

For 40 years, football in Australia was held back by petty feuds among the immigrant community and imported alien prejudices.

You see, folks, it really was that simple.

Not that Sheehan is alone in this. The facile "Old Soccer v. New Football" line has been relentlessly parroted by lazy non-football journalists ever since the inception of the A-League.

Perhaps the most distasteful aspect of Sheehan's piece is that, at the close (after making his one good point, that it is the dumb aping of European terrace antics that is causing the relatively minor problems in the A-League), he attempts to appear genuinely interested in the well-being of the game.

He isn't.

"It's rare in American sports and in Australia."

I seem to remember LA Lakers fans rioting after WINNING the playoffs (or whatever they call it)a few years back.

It's a soccer thing? maybe it is, but i'm 100% sure that the same violent dickheads who attend football matches would still be violent dickheads if Rugby League was the worlds #1 sport.
...i'm 100% sure that the same violent dickheads who attend football matches would still be violent dickheads if Rugby League was the worlds #1 sport....

Amazing how some people put down the 'immigrant' community when it comes to football. Newsflash if it wasnt for this community we'd have nothing.... even today there contribution to the game is immense.
If it is soccer thing then why doesnt it happen in America?
Er...deary me that 'peasant' comment is frightening. Too many pissed off middle class kids more like it (or, in the case of the unfortunate bloke shot, a dj who worked in his father's men's boutique). My oh my Sheehan.
I read an article recently ( I think on soccernet) about the violence at Philly Eagles games in the NFL. Basically, to quote ICE-T and over embelish a little bit:

"Wear the wrong colours, your life could end."
Telstra Dome in its wisdom has decided to crack a walnut with a sledgehammer.

This is the letter from Melbourne Victory:

Melbourne Victory has supported plans introduced by Telstra Dome to provide a new seating plan for visiting supporters for future matches to ensure that any potential confrontation between fans can be avoided.

The changes to be implemented by Telstra Dome for this Saturday night’s game against Wellington Phoenix, and for future home games, provide a dedicated visiting supporter end behind the goals at the LaTrobe Street (northern) end of Telstra Dome. Visiting supporters will enter and exit Telstra Dome through gate 7, and this gate will not be available to other ticket holders.

Additional seating bays will be provided on level 1 for Melbourne Victory general admission members and supporters who purchase a general admission ticket for individual games. New dry zones have also been created at the LaTrobe Street (northern) end of the stadium. The Melbourne Victory supporter end (Bourke Street southern end) will continue to provide opportunities for supporters to stand.

Club CEO Geoff Miles said that the new arrangements had been put in place by Telstra Dome to ensure the safety and enjoyment of all supporters was guaranteed and not compromised by the poor behaviour of some fans.

“In light of the incidents between fans at our game against Sydney FC, action has been considered necessary, as the major priority for Telstra Dome and Melbourne Victory is an enjoyable match night experience for all fans including supporters from visiting clubs. The poor behaviour of a small minority of fans has been the catalyst for this change and no one wants to take a risk for future games, especially given the huge number of families attending Melbourne Victory games.” Miles said.

“It is unfortunate that the new seating plan will require some Melbourne Victory fans to move from the northern end to other level 1 areas, however Telstra Dome will continue to provide standing areas behind the goals on level 1 (between aisles 45 and 5), and will be providing extended general admission seated areas between aisles 6 to 10, and aisles 42 to 45. Telstra Dome regulations do not allow standing on levels 2 and 3, and we remind all Melbourne Victory fans wishing to stand to move to the Bourke Street end of level 1 behind the goals. The active and passionate fan support on level 1 has always made a huge difference to our team and we look forward to a big crowd to get behind Kevin Muscat and the team this weekend.”

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