Tag Archives: Police

Are Victoria Police tweets?

Last night I had an enjoyable time watching the friendly between Melbourne Victory and Celtic.  We lost 1-0, but really in matches like these it really didn’t matter.  I was really happy to be watching football again, and on a cold winter night it felt even more like the real thing!

One of the  positive aspect of the night was how well behaved the crowd was, no flares, no nasty banners.  Fans of both sides mingled. Just chanting and banter.  So when I walked out I thought whether the anti-soccer media would comment on this, probably not.

But comments about the crowd behaviour they did, but not like you expected.  Victoria police used tweeter to be ‘funny’.

“Game about to start with one person already evicted from the ground. What a waste of ticket money!”

“Score still nil nil. Evictions four,”

“Game over. Celtics 1 – Police 14”.

Football fans were pretty outraged.  Now comments on some newspaper sites has told football fans to ‘Harden the F*&k Up’.   After all can’t we take a joke? What about the good ol’ Australian stir?

Well there are many issues here.

First of all it is not ‘just another twitter’ it is the Victoria Police. And here is where the purely social, you can say frivolous aspect of twitter clashes with the serious aspect of an organisation which tweets.

If you look through the tweets before the ones about the football, you can read very serious statements about road fatalities and criminal activity. Then we jump to the ‘jokey’ ones about the game in one go. So are police tweets a serious vehicle for communicating to the public or are they a way to show that the police is ‘cool’ and up to date with the way people are communicating today? You can’t be one and the other. You can’t be #VictoriaPolice and #Policearefunny all at once.

The other issue of course is the fraught relationship that has existed between fans and police. Fans already feel somewhat besieged by large sections of the media that tends to exaggerate any incidents at football matches and ignore those at other more ‘mainstream’ sports. The fact that Police chose to make dispariging silly tweets on a football match unlike other sporting events such AFL matches understandingly makes them pissed off.

However there is a more serious issue about this than some silly tweets. Is the fact that it tend to confirm the suspicion that Police has a prejudice against football fans perceiving them to be more of a problem than other fans, even though statistics tend not to confirm this. There are more arrests and eviction at the cricket for example. But the fact that often Police felt necessary to involve riot police at A-League matches with no apparent reason tend to confirm that Police sees football differently. And this was emphasised in the shameful out of the blue front page article in The Herald Sun in February where a policeman accused football fans to be the most violent with no proof whatsoever.

Fortunately things seem to be changing. I am not a member of an active fan group, however I have received tweets from ‘originalterrace’ who said:

Working Football Group met last night. Very positive signs from Vic police. Next step: invite Etihad, AAMI Park & AGC into the process.

And it seems that Inspector Mick Beattie had to make some fence mending this morning apologising to the fans on 3AW (which was good as Neil Mitchell had to acknowledge how well fans behaved).  While doing this he acknowledged how well these meetings were going, so he was at pains to distance himself from the tweets.

What concerns me however, is that the tweets betray the prejudice of many in the police force, and that despite all the efforts of the Working Football Group, there will be police, like the tweeter in question, that will persist with their negative attitudes towards football fans and act accordingly.

What is needed is a cultural shift in the police force that doesn’t perceive football crowds as a group of potential hooligans ready to start fights at any moment.

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Football Bureau of Investigation – FBI

Regularly a group of active Melbourne Victory fans produce a fanzine that discusses issues relevant to their support.  The group call itself  ‘Independent Football Media’.

This is an article from their latest fanzine (pdf file) that I paste here.  It questions not only how active football fans are seen as law breakers a priori by the police, but also how inefficient the policing is.

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Fans as ‘terrorists’

Every month a group of Melbourne Victory supporters produce a fanzine called IFM. The October edition is available online.

Even if one’s may not agree with everything that is written, it is always a good read. Especially because it is one of the few venues where certain ideas about how football should be treated in Australia by active fans is exposed.

In this edition there is an article from an active fans that gives an inside view about the sort of arguments I placed forward in this post.

I reproduce it here. By I encourage people to visit the fanzine directly to read the other very interesting article.

Above the law

On the Melbourne Victory’s most recent trip to Adelaide, we once again saw an increase in the aggressive persecution of North Terrace active supporter’s. Undercover surveillance is not something abnormal on away trips to the homes of our closest rivals, but on this occasion the authorities, through Hatamoto and the South Australia Police, went beyond merely observing – singling out individuals who had done nothing wrong besides having a chant and a beer, banning them from local pubs and bars and handing out stadium bans to others on mere suspicion and speculation.

Inside the stadium, the situation was no better than at the pregame pubs. Travelling Melbourne fans were subjected to constant video surveillance, throughout the course of the game for merely chanting, while the young locals sitting in the stand directly above repetitively launched projectiles in the forms of coins and bottles into the bay below with minimal action from eitherHatamoto or the SA Police. Some individuals were pulled aside and filmed before they even entered Hindmarsh Stadium, and as at the recent home game against Wellington (a low-risk match if ever there was one), again overzealous policing/security lead to a physical confrontation and the use of capsicum spray, this time for all to see as the action in the stands was caught on the national broadcast.

One might think that the FFA’s foremost concern is for the safety of its patrons, but yet again through their proxies they’ve proved that the agenda against Melbourne supporters supersedes their enforcement of their own code of conduct and the protection of paying customers, the lifeblood of the game.

The local police of Australia continue to show their cultural ignorance and inability to enact simple crowd management, allowing a private security agency and a sporting body to influence their actions to the point that public safety (their number one priority?) is ignored in pursuit of an agenda against a small group of fans, dedicated to following their football side around the country.

Many seem to believe that this small group of fans act as if they’re ‘above the law’, put there can no longer be any question as to whether this is the case with the FFA and their hired goons. The police jump at their beck and call, acting on the slightest suspicion of guilt or an offence at the request of a group of maritime security ‘specialists’ when dealing with potentially volatile situations. Who would you trust? Are our local police really this incompetent? Shouldn’t crowd management be a basic part of their training that they react to on instinct, rather than at the direction of a private ‘security’ firm?

It is a worrying trend for all football fans and wider society when our police forces, paid and funded with our own tax dollars are acting on the speculation of unqualified advisors – particularly when the advisors in question & their employees have an overt agenda against a certain group of people – and are using this questionable information to enact physical force, simply for being ‘different’.

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