Ban soccer thugs for life Print E-mail
Written by Josh Massoud, The Daily Telegraph   
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 23:00
Disgraceful ... referee Mark Shields runs for cover at the SFS as fans pelt him with bottles.

Sydney FC fans who pelted match officials and police with rubbish were last night threatened with life bans as Football Australia vowed to tackle hooliganism head-on.

The noose of suspicion is tightening around an unruly section of supporters who struck referee Mark Shield and several escorting officers with plastic bottles and cups as they retreated up the SFS tunnel, following Sydney's spiteful loss to Melbourne Victory last Saturday night.

Venue management yesterday invited Sydney FC and FFA officials to inspect CCTV footage and still photographs of the ugly scenes in an effort to identify the culprits.

Measures to introduce greater security along the tunnel at the end of matches were also discussed.

A separate meeting involving local area police is scheduled to take place today.

Emerging from yesterday's hour-long gathering at SFS headquarters, FFA boss Ben Buckley left suspected wrong-doers in no doubt as to the consequences they now face for leaving the A-League with an unwanted black eye.

"What happened on Saturday night is something we are taking very seriously," Buckley told The Daily Telegraph.

"There's a range of punishments that we can resort to if we are able to positively identify the perpetrators.

"Those punishments include cancelling their memberships for rest of the season.

"There is also the power to hand down lifetime bans.

"We still have to talk to police, but if we can identify individuals (life bans) are something that is open to us.

"We are very disappointed the actions of a few have detracted from the good behaviour of the vast majority."

Sydney FC operations manager Bob Patterson attended yesterday's meeting on behalf of the A-League club. He said talks with Surry Hills police this afternoon will determine the club's course of action.

"I want to make it clear that we are not ignoring this," Patterson said. "But we won't be coming to any conclusions until we've met with the other three parties involved in running the event - the venue, the police, and the FFA.

A post-match sweep of the tunnel revealed only bottles and cups - and a piece of gum - had been thrown.

Buckley said the most conclusive evidence thus far resided still photos such as the ones published above, but further TV footage was being sought last night.

"The CCTV footage is not as conclusive as we would have hoped," he said.

"We'll be speaking with Fox Sports to see if their cameras captured any further vision of the incident. If we can ID the people responsible we'll prosecute them as we see fit.

"But, like with any form of justice, we will give them a chance to defend themselves."

The FFA's stern stance earned applause from an unlikely source last night - Bulldogs fans.

Long vilified for their behaviour at NRL matches, the Bulldog Army was satisfied to hear scrutiny was being applied across codes.

"It is a great injustice that the Bulldogs are unfairly targeted as a constant source of crowd violence when one could argue that this has been a common occurrence in recent times by other teams," Bulldogs diehard Luke Brailey said last night.

Last Updated on Sunday, 03 February 2008 14:15