Victory spared FFA punishment over flare
Photo Source: AAP
Melbourne Victory fans who dobbed in and turfed out a flare-lighting troublemaker in Saturday's A-League derby have saved their club from punishment from Football Federation Australia over the matter.
A flare lit in the second half of Victory's 4-1 derby defeat looked set to compound their misery on a poor night, with the club playing under the threat of a points deduction due to poor fan behaviour.
But A-League chiefs have decided against activating the punishment or lengthening their probation period after hearing evidence from the club.
Rather than celebrating or cheering the flare - as might have been the case in years past - Victory's active fans shunned the individual and handed him over to authorities, according to FFA.
A-League boss Greg O'Rourke suggested it might be the start of a cultural shift.
"The self-policing by the Melbourne Victory fans is yet another positive step and a strong public statement that fans, clubs and the wider football family were united in saying flares are not acceptable," O'Rourke said.
The club has instead been issued with a reprimand.
Western Sydney Wanderers, walking a similar tightrope after poor fan behaviour from last season, had their probation period lengthened until season's end after two flares were lit in the Sydney derby.
O'Rourke said the crucial factor in treating Victory's situation differently was the action of fans - as well as Victory's enthusiastic take-up of anti-flare campaigns.
"This behaviour is refreshing," he said.
"We look at all incidents on a case-by-case basis and take into consideration the totality of the situation and behaviours and we noted some clear distinctions from the incidents last week at the Sydney derby.
"In issuing the reprimand FFA is warning all clubs of the need to stay vigilant. The collective focus of FFA, clubs, players and true football fans is to work together to eliminate all forms of anti-social behaviour, including flares.
"We need to be clear that a recurrence of the incident where flares are ignited in the Melbourne Victory fans area may leave FFA with no alternative other than to deduct points from the club."