Tag Archives: Soccerphobia

HELP! I am hooked on anti soccer hate following

I nonchalantly scroll the tweets.  Yes Abbott is a douchebag.  Yes, Murdoch is the embodiment of evil……Soccer crowds are violent and un-Australian…WHAT?!  I can feel the adrenaline surging. Who said that. There is a link? it must be oh God this is great!  I am going to feel angry and pissed off!!

Why do I get this rush when there is an anti-soccer article?  Why do I respond?  Why do get hooked in the arguments when I know they are ultimately irrelevant and they say the same thing over and over?

The internet is so good for a soccer hate junkie like me.  You got the immediacy of twitter, and the longer explanations in Facebook.  Then there are the comments after an article from an online newspaper.  These are the best because you get those who have never been to a match and mix their xenophobia with soccer hating. Oh Joy!  two things I can’t stand in one!!  What a perfect combination!  And we are so lucky to have the Herald Sun whose readers are constant fodder for inane anti soccer comments and bigotry.

Yes I am Guido Tresoldi and I am a soccer hate follower.  I feel dirty but I HAVE TO search for Malcolm Conn tweets.  I don’t follow him…but I do searches of him.  I have to have a hit….

Oh yes …give it to me Malcolm…give me more!  You mean beast!!  We haven’t had anything from Rita Panahi for so long!!

But dismissing some Cricket Media guy with an agenda or an AFL loving Andrew Bolt wannabee from some outer suburban area of Melbourne is one thing.  But what about when they are people that you usually admire? WHAT ABOUT IF THEY BELONG TO YOUR POLITICAL SIDE?!!

John Birmingham hasn’t written anti soccer articles for a very long time.  Last Monday article by Martin McKenzie-Murray doesn’t count, as he likes football.  The fact that he writes of the lefty publication The Saturday Paper  and that article was written in the Guardian  – another lefty newspaper – that it is usually quite pro football,  has created conflicted feelings for an Australian Guardianista like me.  However this article did gave a free kick (see what I did there?) to authentic soccer haters to jump in.  Martin may not have realised it but he did a Graham Richardson.  You know when you are a Labor person but writes anti-ALP articles in an anti ALP paper so that the anti ALP people can have verification of their own beliefs.   And of course another writer that is politically on my side Bernard Keane that writes for Crikey.

Bernard is someone who just doesn’t like soccer.    HE REALLY HATES IT.  Must admit that poor Bernard, looking from his profile photoes, looks like a chap that hates lots of things. Cheer up Bernard.  Nevertheless if I have to boycott the Saturday Paper, the Guardian and Crikey what a Chardonnay, caffelatte sipping, middle class, teritary educated, chattering class, lovvie, inner suburban living socialist like me is supposed to read?

I can’t stop.  I hate it but I love it at the same time.  I agree with some on people that follow me on twitter that responding is a waste of time but something inside me compels me to type a response.

I am not alone in this of course.  Most of the people that I follow on twitter are left leaning as well.  And I see them trawling through the Murdoch papers being ourtaged by the ilks of Miranda Devine.  And on Sunday mornings my timeline is flooded by irate tweets of people watching Gerard Henderson on Insider or even more hard core, the Bolt Report.

Actually this phenomenon has been well documented.  It seems that for some of us the feeling of feeling angry and outraged is addictive.  It must release some chemicals in the brain.  Monique Schafter did a report on it on the ‘Big Beast’ a while ago.

So Soccer haters.  Go forth and tweet!

Leave a comment

Filed under Football, Musings

Don’t worry – Mr. Keane. It’s almost over (but we are sad)

There has been a discernible lack of ‘anti soccer’ articles this World Cup. I did noticed a distinct change of mood this time. More people seemed into it, and this is with an Australian team that was, despite its heroics, relatively poor.

I think that most of those who hate the sport are suffering in silence, like having a cold or being in a heatwave. Knowing that it eventually it will pass. They may ignore the A-League as it plays in summer, but the World Cup is a huge juggernaut of a world event that permeates all media, and all of it in the middle of their own codes’ season.

I think though Bernard Keane finally cracked in Crickey today. Like the inmates of Guantanamo Bay being subjected to Metallica, AC/DC, Eminem, and Sesame Street songs at loud volumes for hours or days on end Keane couldn’t hold his feelings any longer. “I despise the World Cup. Not dislike it. Not hate it. But viscerally loathe it.”

Before any soccer fans starts to get into Keane, most of the article is a bit tongue in cheek, and meant to be a bit of lighthearted fun. And mentions the reasons why he dislikes the round ball codes. Things that we soccer fans have heard many times before. To wit:

Soccer can’t use arms: “fundamentally, let’s be blunt, it’s a silly sport. Human beings have four limbs, but this match, 10/11s of the time, pretends we only have legs. “

Soccer fans let out flares because bored: ” Soccer fans are always letting the flares off in the stands. What on earth is it with flares and soccer? Are they so bored with the lack of scoring they want planes overhead to send rescue teams? Is there some weird historical connection between yachting and soccer that I don’t know about?

Diving: Even ardent soccer fans will agree the whole diving thing materially degrades the sport. Although I do like the dives where the diver doesn’t just theatrically hit the turf, but then proceeds to writhe in unspeakable agony, perhaps with the occasional glance to see if he’s successfully milked the penalty.

Keane goes on to say that ultimately all sports are silly. “But hey, look, all sports have their ridiculous aspects. At least soccer doesn’t have scrums — 12 people (or, in rugby, 16!) bend over and shove their heads between each other. Ugh. It’s just … so buttocky.” which is true. Ultimately grown men and women putting so much importance on how many times a ball goes through a wooden frame or posts is irrational.

But then Keane, who is ultimately a political writer gets serious.

No, I really despise the World Cup because FIFA is probably the world’s most corrupt organisation…….The current World Cup is reaping US$4 billion, tax-free, for the Blattercrats of FIFA, while Brazil is blowing $14 billion hosting the thing. Even just bidding for the thing costs serious money as well, as Australia discovered when it wasted nearly $50 million bidding for a World Cup that Qatar secured through bribery. The soccer World Cup is the ultimate repository — or probably suppository — of what I call Major Event Mathematics, that branch of applied maths beloved of consultants and sporting administrators, in which hosting large events produces double-digit economics multipliers and magically erases negative signs in front of numbers. FIFA, like the Olympics, is so corrupt it taints mathematics itself.

OK, I can hear you say, sure, FIFA’s a bunch of crooks, whatever, but can’t you just enjoy a game that brings pleasure to so many billions of people? That’s a bit like saying “look, the cocaine trade is one riddled with violence, corruption and exploitation, but can’t you just enjoy this snort?” And, yes, I take the point about how billions of people around the world enjoy the World Cup. As an economic liberal, I can’t laud market outcomes everywhere else and then complain that soccer is so successful (OK, I could, but then I’d be the sort of half-arsed selective economic liberal I’m always complaining about). But it doesn’t mean I have to overlook the profoundly toxic global phenomenon that lies behind it.

Not being a soccer fan, Keane may not be aware that many, if not a majority, of soccer followers hate FIFA as well. They hate the corruption, they hate the exploitation. ChangeFIFA is one example of how fans are trying to express their desire to change this organisation. But here is the difference between the fan of the sport and someone like Keane isn’t. We hate FIFA exactly because it taints the beautiful game – Our game. We can’t hate the game because of FIFA. By this argument AFL fans should hate Australian Rules because some teams have been involved in enhancing drug taking or hating the sport of Rugby League itself because of what happened in the Super League War in the mid 1990’s.

I am sure that Keane, and others who like their winters being dominated by AFL/NRL talk without this huge soccer Behemoth will be relieved that the World Cup is almost at the end. The final will be on Monday 14 July at 5:00 am. Not long to go now………

1 Comment

Filed under Football

Ann Coulter’s soccerphobia fundementally different from Australia’s version

I have written often in this blog on how football has the ability of bringing up to the surface underlying tensions and anxieties in Australian society that often lie unseen and unexposed in other circumstances. The World Cup, because of its immense global media presence tends to inspire non-football friendly articles (although less this year) and comments on media, but nothing from Australia could surpass a piece  from USA’s right wing loopy tea party loving commentator Ann Coulter. The type of articles that Coulter writes are often so outlandish that you have to wonder whether they are really parody. I suspect they are more designed for manufacturing outrage and consequently more links more clicks and more interest and this is water to the mill for Coulter.

Whether heart felt, or a glorified troll bait, her arguments have been picked up and discussed in an article titled: Ann Coulter Is Right to Fear the World Cup by Peter Beinart (@peterbeinart) and interestingly he puts the hate of football in the USA squarely in its tradition of exceptionalism

Soccer hatred, in other words, exemplifies American exceptionalism. For roughly two centuries, American exceptionalism has rested on the premise that there is a standard mode of national behavior, born in Europe, which America resists. Over the centuries, what constitutes that European standard—and America’s resistance to it—has changed. For some 19th-century thinkers, for instance, what made America exceptional was its refusal to partake of the European habit of fighting wars. For Coulter and many contemporary conservatives, by contrast, part of what makes America exceptional is its individualism, manliness and populism. (All of which soccer allegedly lacks).

But Coulter’s deeper point is that for America to truly be America, it must stand apart. That’s why she brings up the metric system. The main reason to resist the metric system isn’t that it’s a bad form of measurement. It’s that it’s a European form of measurement. So it is with soccer. Soccer’s alleged collectivism, effeminacy and elitism are simply markers of its foreignness. The core problem with embracing soccer is that in so doing, America would become more like the rest of the world.

Beinart makes the point that one of the reasons why football didn’t catch on is because its development in Europe and South America coincided with a massive influx of migrants in the USA, and sport was a way to create a separate identity.

The arbiters of taste in late 19th and early 20th century America wanted its national pastimes to be exceptional. Despite the British roots of both baseball (in rounders) and football (in rugby), their promoters worked to cleanse them of foreign associations and market them as American originals. Basketball had the good fortune to have actually been invented in the United States.

Soccer, by contrast, was associated with foreignness in an era when mass immigration was spawning Coulter-like fears that America was losing its special character. “Soccer,” Markovits and Hellerman argue, “was perceived by both native-born Americans and immigrants as a non-American activity at a time in American history when nativism and nationalism emerged to create a distinctly American self-image … if one liked soccer, one was viewed as at least resisting—if not outright rejecting—integration into America.” Old-stock Americans, in other words, were elevating baseball, football, and basketball into symbols of America’s distinct identity. Immigrants realized that embracing those sports offered a way to claim that identity for themselves. Clinging to soccer, by contrast, was a declaration that you would not melt.

There has been comments on social media that Coulter’s argument echoes the anti-football sentiment in Australia. There are similarities, but in my opinion their context is very different.

Ian Syson’s Neos Osmos website has collected examples of the tussle between the Australian version of football and the ‘British’ version at the turn of the 19th and 20th century. He writes:

The earliest direct ref to its foreignness (of football) is in 1905 though its Britishness was usually emphasised in earlier reports. Indeed, it is sometimes a “wicked foreign game” that menaces and threatens to overrun Australian society, steal our land and brainwash and enfeeble our children. Its values and practices are ‘other’ and the game has periodically been asked to go back to where it came from.

While this eerily echoes Coulter’s arguments 100 year later, here is where the similarities end. While Coulter’s article have similar themes with an Australian perception (ie. its lack of perceived manliness) unlike the USA who fought a war to become independent from Great Britain and become a Republic, Australia was fiercely pro British. At the turn of the century many Australians would consider themselves as British subjects in the Empire under the British Monarch. Also a game which is English par excellence, cricket, became the truly national sport. No issue with being too ‘British’ there. There was no impetus to create an uniquely Australian version, like an Aussie baseball. Beating the Poms became a major feature in Australian sport.

So why this Australian exceptionalism occurred only in football codes? Why did Australians in all states except NSW and Victoria felt the need to create their own identity through their own brand of football and excluding something which was too ‘British’ when being British was part and parcel of Australia?

When gallant Cook from Albion sail’d,
To trace wide oceans o’er,
True British courage bore him on,
Till he landed on our shore.
Then here he raised Old England’s flag,
The standard of the brave;
With all her faults we love her still,
“Brittannia rules the wave!”
In joyful strains then let us sing
“Advance Australia fair!”

The current situation is different as well. Americans may not like football because of the reasons outlined by Coulter, but there seems to be little anxiety from the major code. Just look at this tweet.

The Football Sack raises and interesting question. Would an AFL team opened up their grounds so that people could watch a football game?  Perhaps, but the reactions around this time from some AFL media is predictable as it is disappointing. Such as an article by Tim Lane (which I have lots of respect for) titled Sleeping giant looms over footy’s fragile web. Here again we have the theme of the AFL being careful about the ‘sleeping giant’. Lane states:

But in 2014 another taste was offered of how exciting this World Cup thing could one day be. And it hasn’t done the development of the round ball game in this country any harm. Long established sporting cultures don’t change overnight. Australian soccer has come a long way in 10 years.

Which raises the question: is there more the indigenous game should do to insulate itself against any long-term challenge to its claim as most popular football code in the land?

It is disappointing that we have comments such as these. Why instead of rejoicing of a team representing our country, Australia, and accounting itself well on the world stage, its success is seen negatively? As a threat?

Anti football people in the USA and Australia, may sound like raising similar arguments, but their context are different. In both cases football is being portrayed as foreign. But in the USA is seen as an indication of a change in its traditional values by conservatives from within, a bit like the introduction of universal health care. In Australia it is perceived as a foreign threat, from outside, attacking the ‘indigenous’ game. It falls into that Australia’s unfortunate malaise of xenophobia. From the unease of foreign workers on 457 visas, the ‘Yellow Peril of the 1960’s to ‘Stop the Boats now’, The fear of the ‘external threat’ is ever present in the Australian psyche.


Filed under Football, Politics and Current Affairs

Cory Bernardi – the soccerphobe.

We have heard quite a lot about Cory Bernardi recently after his book railing against ‘non-traditional families’ surrogacy and euthanasia, abortion and workers’ rights.  Bernardi of course is also against multiculturalism, his anti-Muslim views are well known. He has advocated that migrants should ‘assimilate’ into what he sees is a 1950’s white Australia ideal.

So it is not surprising that he also perceives Association Football as a ‘foreign’ sport.  He published his views in his blog in 2011, which he has since deleted. Fortunately I cut and pasted his post in the Melbourne Victory forum and I was able to retrieve it.  So we can add soccerphobia to his homophobia, islamophobia ……..

15 February 2011

Segregating Soccer Supporters

Last week I joined more than 20,000 other spectators at Adelaide Oval watching Adelaide United play the Melbourne Victory in the A-League soccer. By all accounts it was an excellent game with the local team prevailing in a 2-1 victory. I say ‘by all accounts’ because I missed much of the on field action. Unfortunately, my attention was continually drawn to the action off the field.

My first sense that something wasn’t right was when I noticed that the visiting Victory supporters were isolated in a fenced off area with a narrow corridor and two chain wire fences between them and the locals. Within the corridor were a collection of a dozen police officers wearing florescent yellow jackets keenly observing the crowd.

Being a regular AFL supporter, I have never seen a physical barrier between rival backers at a regular football match before. In fact, I have sat supporting my team amongst a sea of opposing fans (in Melbourne and Adelaide) suffering nothing more than good natured jeers and some well timed humorous barbs – many of them from my oldest son who doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the Carlton Football Club.

Things were clearly different at the soccer. There were the obligatory chants that added a great deal of atmosphere to the stadium. Some of them were quite clever and many were hard to understand for the unfamiliar but they seemed to hit home with the regular crowd. They also seemed to get the desired response from the opposite numbers who retorted in kind.

What appeared to be good natured barracking descended into farce when flares were launched from one supporter group into the other. Though clearly dangerous, the exchange of these illuminating markers continued through much of the match.

Other, indeterminate objects were thrown as the police struggled to contain the more excitable elements within the crowd. Their response was to increase the ‘corridor’ between the rivals by moving the wire fences apart. This was done on multiple occasions until there was nearly 20 metres of ‘no man’s land’ separating the rival clans.

I witnessed a number of people forcibly removed by officers for undetermined offences, which unfortunately seemed to agitate the warring parties even more.

The difficult job of our boys (and girls) in blue was compounded when the Victory levelled the score. Their supporter group rushed toward the containment line in a surge of bodies that flattened some officers and threatened to bring down the security barrier.

This prompted a similar response from United fans and I was spellbound by the potentially violent confrontation that looked likely to occur.

Fortunately it didn’t. The police contained the situation and the match continued without any significant incidents. 

While this unruly behavior was confined to a tiny section of the enthusiastic crowd, my sense of disappointment that we have such problems at Australian sporting events was palpable.

In attending hundreds of similar events over the years, I have suffered the good-natured slings and arrows of rival teams without ever feeling uncomfortable or threatened. Having stood shoulder to shoulder with the Barmy Army when Australia have won and lost the Ashes and cheered for the Blues in a sea of Pies, sport in Australia has always been a way of bringing people together – regardless of our individual teams.

If soccer aspires to grow its support amongst the broader community it needs to put a stop to the anti-social behavior that requires isolation and segregation of some supporters from others.

Leave a comment

Filed under Football, Uncategorized

The Panahi/Elliott affair. Time to move on.

There only one word about it.  A tweeter shitstorm has been occurring amongst football fans and some members of the media.  About the the Etihad Chairs incident (surely to get a TV Underbelly treatment soon) and consequently comments made by some about the behaviour of soccer fans etc. etc.

I am fairly certain that most people reading this would know the whole sorry saga.  But for a nice summary you can read an article written by Michael DiFabrizio in ‘The Roar’.

That article also points out that The ‘us against them’ mentality no point to any of it.

Both sets of fans are right and both sets of fans are wrong. Some of what they say is bang on, some is well off target.

Ultimately, they can keep throwing grenades at each other until the cows come home, but unless everyone on each side takes the time and effort to become truly informed on what’s happening either side of the fence, there really is no point.

In fact, you don’t need to jump the fence to realise there isn’t a point.

Michael is absolutely right.  However it may be useful to perhaps think where all this outrage comes from.

When SOME commentators who are more fans of Australian Rules Football, rather than Association Football comment about Association Football they have the tendency to use a language of exclusivity. Overall, while I disagreed with most of it Ms. Panahi article, it wasn’t neither here or there (even though we heard the arguments before). But she started with the statement: “And let’s set the record straight: it is called soccer in this country. Football is played with an oval ball on an oval ground.” Some (and that includes me) may go ‘meh’, I don’t really mind.  But for some it reads like: “We – AFL supporters – will decide how your sport will be called. It’s called soccer. We don’t give a fig if it’s called football in other countries. Football is reserved for games of the mainstream (AFL + NRL) while your sport is something else. It doesn’t belong in here. It’s not in the same league”

Oversensitive? Perhaps. But I have noticed that many reasonable and thoughtful writers such as Michael that may (and I am ready to be corrected) not have followed Association Football for many years, either because they were following something else, or they are too young, tend to be surprised and question the reaction. But after decades of being told that the sport we love was basically a second class citizen this has developed a sensitivity amongst the supporters.

Think of the time when there were no defenders in the media for Association Football AT ALL.  When we missed out for qualification for World Cups for thirty years, and some of our fellow Australians instead of commiserating with us were scornful (It’s a shit sport anyway mate, who cares joining all those primadonnas at the world cup etc. etc. ).  All those jibes at work, and especially at school, where in many cases the Aussie Rules/Cricket boys were the exhaulted ones , while those playing soccer were ignored at best, or labelled wogs or sissies.

Then you can understand the irritation towards media outlets such as 3AW virtually ignoring Association Football, even when attendances match or even exceed cricket and Rugby League ones  but taking notice only when something negative happens – and when it does emphasising the ‘nor part of Australia culture’ argument.

Michael and other journalist take the example of what’s happening with the drug scandal at Essendon at the moment as proof that the AFL is not spared scrutiny.  Which is true.  Just read the scathing article today by Caroline Wilson: “Would you want your son playing AFL footy?”    But rarely I’ve seen Association Football journalists, hoeing into AFL and questioning it’s existence and value in Australian culture like SOME AFL journalists or at least AFL friendly media personalities such as Tom Elliot.

Perhaps this unawareness of the resentment some of us carry about how Association Football is treated  is why when some commentators such as Ms. Panahi criticise the sport she is startled by the backlash.  Many twitters have written that we (Association Football fans) have been taking shit for years but now we’re fighting back.

But perhaps we should try ‘fighting fair?’ Of course it takes two, and we know that some media outlets like to antagonise Association Football fans (they must get a shitload of hits).  If that is the case we perhaps just not engage. After all after these ‘Soccer Shame’ media hype have occurred regularly since the inception of the A-League and despite attendances going up and down we do get plenty of people watching, especially in Melbourne.  Both at Etihad and AAMI Park I am literally surrounded by families, so whatever they say doesn’t really affect things much.  When we get the comment ‘the sport will never grow because of the hooligans’ it is false.  The game has grown and it continues to do so.

We don’t have to be touchy.  Ms. Panahi has written uninformed articles, but offensive, misogynistic and racist comments directed at her are unacceptable and drags us all down.  Also I think we need to be more sophisticated in identifying commentators who are against our sport denying its value instead of being angry against anyone who makes a criticism (whether justified or not).  So for instance Rebecca Wilson is a confirmed soccerphobe that will take any opportunity to belittle Association Football in Australia and its place in the sporting culture.  But then you have writers such as Greg Baum and Richard Hinds that have written complementary and critical articles about Association Football.  But because they have been writing a lot about Australian Rules (after all whether we like it or not it is the most popular code in Melbourne) even critically they are suspect and ‘AFL stooges’ which it is not really the case.  All I can say is ‘Know thy enemy’

Perhaps it is also time to shrug off the feeling of inferiority.  We are not wogball anymore and now we are in a position that if someone demeans our sport we can laugh not get angry.  When we go to the finals and we are together with 40,000 of our brotherhood/sisterhood we’ll know that a silly article will be in next day’s recycling bin, and that one radio commentator is really there to re-enforce prejudices of people who will not come to a match anyway and is there to sell denture adhesives.  Nothing to get hot under the collar about.


Filed under Football

Misbehaviour at the football: The triumph of the immature egoist

(picture taken by @ludbeyheraldsun)

Two things seem to be happening regularly in the Australian media at the moment. One is ALP leadership speculation every time there is a bad Newspoll and soccer hooligans commentary by commercial media every time something bad happens.

A small mercy is that it is not as bad as it used to be. The fact that the A-League is much less of a marginalised sport has allowed mainstream sport journalists such as Francis Leach, or Gerard Wheatley to realise that going to a football match is an experience that is fun and safe.

But it can’t be denied that there is an element that likes to do some mischief let we say.

This leaves us football fans in a bit of a no win situation. On one hand we can’t really condone any wilful damage, nor any action that can be dangerous. But on the other we feel affronted by the usual commentary (all by followers of the other football codes) that paints the fans of our sport as a bunch of dangerous criminals. Adding to the injury is knowing that even worse incidents at AFL matches have hardly been mentioned.

I discussed the issue about why football crowds are perceived differently in another post that I wrote when again incidents got the conservative media out in force.

Fans know that like shonky builders and horror neighbours commercial media especially is at the ready to write ‘Soccer Shame’ headlines when any incident occur. So why these events still persist?

David Hards writes in his blog that sometimes us football fans can be our worst enemies. He writes:

We must be smarter A-League fans, stop the flares, save the chairs and pull your heads in.  Real football fans work tirelessly improving the image of our games, countless hours are spent by players and staff promoting the game through all facets on the community and our reputation is tarnished by those few who cannot move forward with the league itself.

Flares, crowd violence and a poor media reputation should have been left behind when the A-League established itself and relinquished the ethnicity ties of the various clubs the NSL represented.  On the most part this has worked with great success but we must remember we are only as strong as our weakest link.

A similar sentiment is expressed by Adrian Musolino :

Without the flares and bottle and chair throwing, there would be no story.

So sure, the media may overplay what’s going on in the stands. But deprive them of the excuse and the headlines would inevitably disappear or the media become more desperate to seek a negative A-League story……

So, to the active supporters out there, behave. Sing, dance, chant, cheer, make banners, boo the opposition and so forth. This sort of atmosphere is what differentiates football from other codes and will help attract new fans and keep them coming, therefore helping the A-League to grow in stature.

But don’t resort to the flares, violence, chair throwing, racist chants and so forth. They don’t add anything to the fan experience and only fuel the negative headlines.

Meanwhile a Victoria Police statement said that: “There are some issues with the soccer that in some ways we don’t totally understand. I’m not sure why it happens”

Perhaps I can venture an explanation. Before I continue I have to say that mine are opinions based on impressions that I have gathered by reading football forums, social media and by observing people at football matches. It is not based on a survey or formal research, but here is goes.

One comment about the chair incident from Facebook

Regardless of the chairs that were broken, we’ve already adopted to footballing culture from Europe decades ago…it is something that no one can prevent! If thick minded people think that soccer is just a sport to watch with no atmosphere (flares) then what’s the point of being a spectator?

Criticism of the type of support the FFA wanted back in 2004:

Yeh, overseas flares are a norm, they are not seen as violent, they add better atmosphere to games, you MVFC have listened to the Australian media too much.
No wonder you will be boring supporters, you will just sit there and occasionaly clap like its some game of golf.
Look at the other clubs like Perth & Adel Utd, never seen them wankers light one flare at a game, boring!

People may go to football matches for a variety of reasons. But perhaps there is a small minority that really doesn’t care about the A-League, doesn’t care about whether the sport of Association Football becomes a major one in Australia, and probably doesn’t care about their team either. They only care about themselves.

Maybe they are young and immature. Maybe they don’t care about football’s image because they are so self-absorbed that all they really care is big-noting themselves in front of their mates, showing how brave they are in ripping a flare or breaking a chair and throwing it without being caught. Maybe they are thrilled by the ‘danger’ of doing something ‘dangerous’.

When I see active fans, especially those who do the choreo they seem to be male and young. While 99% of them are only interested in jumping, chanting and waving flags, I think is really just a few that are using it as a selfish way of big-noting themselves.

I am no skip – they do it over there but we don’t do it here.

While the ethnicity issue has been largely taken out with the advent of the A-League, there seems to be a persistent belief amongst some fans that if we don’t copy what they do overseas, then we are not ‘real’ football fans. A great example of sporting cringe. These individuals go to sites like these drool about the flares in Europe and think that something like that has to be reproduced in Australia. When you point that the Australian sporting culture is different they snide that it is an inferior one, and tell you to ‘piss off back to the AFL’ where it is bland and boring.

And here is the issue that perhaps those who take flares in the ground, those who use the idiotic initials of A.C.A.B (All Cops Are Bastards) those who do damage, are wannabe Ultras and use football as a vehicle first for self-aggrandisement as explained before, but second also as a rebellion against the ‘Australian’ culture, that include the AFL and the NRL. Criticisms by soccerphobes in the media can actually enhance this feeling of isolation and perhaps even motivate them to misbehave even more (You can criticise me all you like you skip bastards, get fucked the lot of youse, here’s another flare!). I think many couldn’t care less if there were only 500 people at a match, as long they were ‘true fans’ like them (unlike wishy washy AFL types). Couldn’t care less if football became a marginalised, ignored, irrelevant sport again as long as they can get their jollies at the weekend (in fact it could be argued that the NSL almost reached that point).

The Solution?

So can this behaviour be changed? I think it can but it would require a shift in the belief of not dobbing. In Australian culture dobbing is already a crime. This is enhanced by the fact that it seems that even if active supporters don’t like flares, or misbehaviour (I’ve read one being really pissed off that hours spent in creating a banner was ruined when someone ripped a flare when the banner went up) seems reticent to report them to security. With the chair issues at the Melbourne Heart section how long this went on? I don’t think 100+ chairs could have been broken in seconds. If someone alerted security the responsible people would have been ejected and only a few chairs would have been broken. The fact seems to be that even those who disapprove won’t ‘dob’ someone else to the police or security. There still may be the feeling that dobbing is always a low act.

So like other youth behaviour (albeit a minority) such as binge drinking, taking risks with driving etc. which is resistant to change, I think that unfortunately it will be very hard to eliminate flares or other immature acts by some individuals. You can lecture all your like about ‘pulling their head in’ but I think this won’t change many unwanted behaviours.

It has been proven by psychological studies that some young people who misbehave tend not change their behaviour with punishment (in fact may make thing worse) but will from peer pressure. So perhaps instead of evicting offenders and charging them, they will be identified and later other active fans will meet with them and tell them that they are dickheads and their actions are not wanted in their group, and next time they will be on their own, maybe things may change.

May not work. But maybe worth a try. Otherwise we will be caught in this merry-go-round of: ‘incident – anti football media hysterics – football fans being pissed off’ forever.


Filed under Football

So why Association Football seems to be the punching bag?

I actually have quite a bit of time for Kristina Keneally.  She courageously took on the role of being NSW Premier when the ALP government was on its last legs and was on a hiding to nothing and while staring at defeat she continued with dignity.  I admired her on Q&A with her progressive views (especially on same sex marriage) being a practising Catholic.  However, as it always happens when someone who I like say something which I think is wrong, I was quite disappointed when she wrote this tweet after the NBL Grand Final.



A great end to @NBL season- attendance up all year, no licenses revoked/returned, great grand final, no controversial calls in last min….

Obviously that was a dig at the A-League.  As the Chair of the Basketball Australia it is understandable that she is publicising the sport, but why the disparaging remarks about football?  This is not the first time that a non major sport took pot shots at football.

Back in March, V8 Supercars boss Tony Cochrane said:

“Any fair dinkum sport in this country has to be on free-to-air TV. You can be on all those other platforms, but if you’re not on free-to-air, you’re simply not a fair dinkum sport,”

“For that reason, I don’t think we’re sitting here worrying too much about what the A-League are going to do – whichever A-League it is this week.”

I guess that unlike Keneally’s tweet which appears to have come out of the blue, this was in response of a direct question about TV rights.  But Cochrane didn’t need to be so nasty about football and A-League in his response.  So while  I have written before about soccerphobia amongst the most popular sports such as Australian Rules and Rugby League, it seems that even those who share the second tier as football (in the domestic sense anyway, because few sport can match the interest generated by the National Football Team) want to go in for the chop.  Which I can’t understand why.

Maybe basketball is pissed off that football gets more coverage in the media than them and also got money from government and they haven’t (I think they do have a point there, basketball is also a world sport and has a high participation amongst youth).  But frankly it seems to me like the small kids want to join the big kids in bullying the kid who may be in trouble at the moment.  Can’t understand why.  Is being disparaging about Association Football some sort of Aussie cultural practice?  Because I don’t remember the FFA chortling away when in  2008, the NBL terminated the Sydney King’s team’s licence and the owners were unable to pay player salaries.



Filed under Football

Neil Mitchell is not the problem, the issue is culture

So a match with some flares and predictably the likes of Neil Mitchell have had a field day in slamming ‘soccer’ and its supporters.  And predictably this sparked the outraged of many football fans.

Ultimately I am not surprised of what Mitchell has said, he was, is and will be anti-football (I remember during the Sydney Olympics that he didn’t want to call football ‘football) and so most of his listeners.

I would not categorise Mitchell as a ‘shock jock’, he is a journalist, albeit a populist one that can push the buttons to create a story with conflict and movement that makes his listeners tuned in.  Mitchell himself is not the issue, the issue is that him (or anyone else for that matter) is in a position to use football as a issue to polarise and contrast.  Why is it so?  I think because football has bound in itself a lot of issues about how many in so called ‘middle – Australia’ perceives itself and the world.

Australians in the main still suffer from a inferiority complex when it comes to many things.  Being an English speaking country at the bottom of Asia, it means that we continuoulsy refer back to the UK or the USA.  Whether it is Hollywood, books, or movies we sort of know that there is where is at.  However if there is one area where Australians feel that they are better or equal  is sport.  The fact that it may be a sport that (albeit very skilful and entertaining ) is not played at any meaningful level overseas, such as Australian Rules.  Or played relatively in few places in the world such as Cricket or Rugby Union it doesn’t matter.  While many may acknowledge that let’s say universities are better overseas, they firmly believe that Australian Rules is infinitely better than football.

So football is seen as a foreign code, as an import.  And in the main, people that follow it and play it are ‘migrants’.  So it is inevitable that when fans support their team in a way that is seen as not the ‘normal’ way in an Australian context it pushes all those buttons that the tabloid media absolutely love.

Comments after the Serbia- -Australia match such as “several thousand people were involved in this, according to the police,” before later revising that figure down to “2,000 or 3,000” and that fans were changing shirts so they could not be identified or wearing balaclavas came straight from a police spokesmen in an interview before, and were later used by Mitchell.

Wind back to another time when Mitchell went bizzo on football fans in February when the Herald-Sun splashed a story on the front page, that police labelled soccer fans – particularly Melbourne Victory supporters – as out-of-control thugs that leave their officers in fear. Far worse than crowds at any other sport or major event.  This comment came out of the blue, where no incident occur before this article appeared in the paper.  I didn’t understand why the Police would come out with such a statement.

There seem to be a anti-football mentality in the Victoria Police that fuel this issue. If Mitchell interviewed police and they said that there were a few trouble makers and that overall the crowd was OK, (which is normally what is stated at AFL and Cricket matches) he wouldn’t have any ammunition (sort of speak) to go on his rants.

Of course things like flares are dangerous, and have no place in any stadium in the world, let alone in Australia.  But I think that the organised and choreographed support that has now developed in the support of many teams is something that while common place in Europe is still unknown in Australia.  So I think that when police is confronted by 200 young men singing in unison they perceive a potential threat.

See it from the Police point of view.  In a cricket or football crowd a trouble maker is easily identified and dealt with.  A trouble maker amongst a group of chanting late-teens, early 20’s males is a different proposition altogether.  Also, while I am not a member of any supporter’s group, reading some comments from the Melbourne Victory forum I detect that there is a small group of supporters that think that they have to follow some of the transgressive way some European supporter groups follow their team to be ‘real’ fans.  This does include flares and silly attitudes such as ACAB (All Cops Are Bastards).  There is a mixture of cultural cringe and rebellion and also rejection of the Australian mainstream culture here.  Cringe that it has to be done like in Europe.  Rebellion in breaking the rules, and also a reaction of not ‘be like the AFL’ and being ostensibly not to be seen to confrom to some sort of Australian maintream way of supporting.

The fact is that culturally, football has gone a long way since the bad ol’ days of the 1980’s.  For instance, the Australia – Serbia match was broadcast live on ABC Radio, something unthinkable just ten years ago.  The anti-football commentators will always be there, because football is a convenient package to push some prejudice buttons.  However we still have some way to go, especially with the police.   And as any meeting of minds both sides need to come some way.  I have heard that supporter groups have tried to liaise with the police, but while in some instances things may improve (especially with some police officers) some are resolutely wary of football crowds and tend to over-compensate in their handling of fans.  On the other hand the small groups that believe that to be a real fan you need to take the worst practices and anti-police attitudes from Europe must be marginalised. I think it can be done.  If groups that were presecuted by police such as the gay community are now having the Chief Commissioner matching on Mardi Gras I can’t think of any reason why football fans and police can’t work together.  Then people like Mitchell will have his anti-football arguments severely diminished.  But it requires some good will and leadership from both sides, and I am not sure that exists at the moment.


Filed under Football

Herald-Sun hypocrisy – again

The subject of  how the mainstream media, especially the populist one treats Association Football has been a continual subject of this blog.  Now we have such a blatant example of bias that we could call it a smoking gun.

Last Friday during the Carlton – Collingwood match a fan was bashed when he confronted a group of five men who he said were hurling abuse at two elderly ladies.  The story is here.  He had to go to hospital.  I don’t recall the story to being given any prominence in the online version of the Herald-Sun.  So much so it didn’t attract any comments.

Today there was a story about a group of people attacking security guards at a Victorian Premiership match between  Heidelberg United and Melbourne Knights at the Olympic Reserve in Heidelberg West.  This story is in the front page of the online version of the paper, attracting the inevitable ‘anti-soccer’ comments.

Where to start?  In the first place the AFL match was at the highest level of the game.  The match on Sunday was a Victorian match played in a reserve.  It would be like placing an incident on the front website that occurred between Sandringham and Werribee.

Then look at the stories.  The AFL incident is linked to alcohol.


Mr Eglezos said he blamed the encouragement of drinking as the cause of the problem.

“The crowd was rowdy and really hostile,” he said.

“I’ve been going to Carlton games for years and it appears more and more to me that Friday night matches are there to encourage drinking.

“There was nowwhere near enough security and the drinking was out of control.

That is probably true no doubt.  But there wasn’t any linking between the violence and the game itself.  Now look at the soccer story.


The latest incident comes just two months after a senior policeman branded soccer fans the most violent of any sporting code.

Superintendent Rod Wilson said police were reluctant to cover Melbourne Victory games after being assaulted by fans.


It’s not alcohol ITS THE FANS THEMSELVES – SOCCER FANS ARE EVIL.  And of course the Herald-Sun links this totally unrelated incident to a beatup story about how ‘violent’ Melbourne Victory fans are besmirching Melbourne Victory and the A-League.  By this reasoning then we should blame the AFL for a brawl at the Essendon District League on the weekend.

Have you read the truth or did you read it in the Herald-Sun?

1 Comment

Filed under Football

Attack on soccer fans and the failure of multiculturalism

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

If you were a follower of the more highfalutin media such as The Age or the ABC in Melbourne you might have missed it, but on Friday the tabloid media went on to an assault against Association Football fans, but in particular Melbourne Victory fans.

The Herald-Sun had a massive front page headlines describing Victory Fans as violent. That is because a senior policeman Rod Wilson described fans of the club as the most violent he has seen. I don’t but the Herald Sun, but when I heard about this on SEN radio I switched on the 3AW and Neil Mitchell and I wasn’t ‘disappointed’. Mitchell used his program to reheat all the stereotypes of ‘soccer’ and bemoaning the fact that these sort of things don’t happen in the AFL. I won’t rebut these claims because many people have done this already and better than I could do such as today’s articles by Age Football writer Micheal Lynch (His account that a policeman known to The Age, speaking on condition of anonymity suggested that the arrest figures from the AFL and cricket matches were usually far higher and that there was often more trouble at other codes than football but ‘never gets reported in the same way in the media” is certainly telling).and by Sebastian Hassett in the Sydney Morning Herald are a perfect example of this.

The strange thing about this story is that it appeared out of nothing and without warning. It is not like there was an incident at a match the week before that would have caused the story to get out. Although there have been some issues between police/security in the last month where for some reason the Northern Terrace where the active fans gather, were not allowed to bring their flags, banners etc. This resulted in a peaceful protest by the Northern Terrace (by not actively supporting the team). The club sought a meeting with police on the issue (which will be held on Monday I think) and I do wonder, considering Melbourne Victory has been siding with the supporters, whether this was somewhat a pre-emptive move by the police. But then I thought, why? Why would the police brand publicly Melbourne fans as ‘the most violent’? What would it gain? It’s not like wayward fans would immediately start to behave once they are described as violent thugs in the front page of the Herald Sun. Or that the Club would somehow ask for more police, because both of these things would probably increase problematic behaviour, not lessen it. It seems common sense to me. Interestingly Hassett writes:

Wilson’s claim was viewed by many as a pre-emptive strike on those fans who have been busily working out how best to voice their concerns about security and police behaviour. In good faith, fans had already organised a meeting with Victoria Police for next Monday.

But also I was asking myself, why would the Herald-Sun put such a story in the front page? It is not like it was a slow news day. We had the sad news of a nine year old boy who lost both his parents in a boating tragedy while trying to come to Australia. And we also had the immigration minister who talked about multiculturalism for the first time since the departure of John Howard. Then it struck me that perhaps the story of the fans and the minister raising multiculturalism again wasn’t that disconnected. As I was listening to the diatribe of Mitchell and the arguments put forward by the Police person Rod Wilson on 3AW, he mentioned that one thing that he felt that football fans did (as opposite to others) was they taunted opposition fans and he saw this as dangerous behaviour. Now I have stood plenty of times in the southern stand, where taunting opposition fans is the norm. Sometimes I find the taunts a bit juvenile, but sometimes are clever (ie. You’re a suburb of Sydney! to Central Coast fans) but I never though that they were done with violent intent and the opposition fans expected and give it back. That is the tradition, but this taunting doesn’t mean that a fan group will then be incited to violence.

Hassett again I think hit the nail on the head in his article today:

Many are the tales of fans claiming they are being targeted from the moment they raise their arms or voices in song. Many feel they are instantly viewed as would-be hooligans.

Unfortunately, security and police in Australia are not trained to deal with football supporters. One fan said this week at the fans’ forum held at Melbourne Town Hall: ”Just because fans sound aggressive doesn’t mean they are.”

And also Micheal Lynch in The Age:

Quite simply, those in the soccer fraternity do not believe that police and security used to AFL and other sports where the culture of fans is much more passive, understand how to conduct crowds at soccer games…

And that’s where the issue of multiculturalism comes in. A group like the Blue and White Brigade has initiated a style of support that draws its inspiration from Europe and South America. It’s co-ordinated, loud and passionate. But it is different from the type of support at the AFL or the cricket where individuals shout and barrack fo their team. So it is seen as ‘foreign’ outside the mainstream white Australian culture and as such potentially threatening.

So this can be seen as an example where the idea of multiculturalism fails. While the mainstream is happy with pretty dances, and exotic food, once different cultural expressions are shown then they are seen as alien and to be stamped out. The way to support a team has to conform with the parameters set up by the ‘Australian’ sports such as Australian Rules of Rugby. It’s the equivalent of a white picket fence style of support.

1 Comment

Filed under Football