[Peter Ashby writes]
Yesterday's disgraceful behaviour by the Sydney United supporters will hopefully trigger the folding of the club.If Soccer Australia has any balls at all it will impose the maximum fine allowable. This measure I hope will send them so much further into debt, that there is no way back. For those who were unable to attend, let me enlighten you. These so called supporters let off flares, they also held a 40 foot Croatian flag above there heads for most of the game, and they detonated bungers on the field whilst the game was in progress.
At the end of the game the situation turned really ugly. The police and the security were called to attend to some rowdy supporters. This was the signal for the scum to throw missiles, including bottles at the securityguards and the police. This then prompted the scum to go about wrecking the Marconi stadium. I would hazard a guess, and say that they ripped out at least 150 seats.
In an act of defiance, whan the police were making arrests, virtually to a man the crowd rose to chant Cro-artz-ia. They obviously were in agreeance with the animals antics.
Before any of you listees mention "it's only a small minority involved", let me warn you not to waste your time typing. Personally I'm sick to death of these turds giving our great game a bad name, and when man woman and child start chanting their support and encouragement to these lumps of dog excrement, it indicates the mentality of the majority of people who are supporting this club.
If we don't stop this type of behaviour now, it can only escalate. These turds don't deserve such a magnificent football team. They deserve imprisonment.
BIG PETE still fuming.
[Rob Child responds to the above post and writes]
I was there yesterday, and any hope I held for this 'Sydney' club has now vanished.
I have tried to be reasonable, and respect what good United has done for the game in Sydney.
I have nothing but praise for the players they have produced over the years. But after the supporters performance on Sunday, I feel absolutely no sympathy when I consider their club has no future.
They have no interest in football, unless it involves destroying it. The club, and the majority of their fans, can go jump as far as I am concerned. They are ruining MY game. And yes, it is MY game, because I CARE about it. It is MY game, just as all of you who love it and care for it can say it's MY game. But it is not these idiots' game. They have chosen to disown it, tear it down and trample it. Throw flares and smokebombs at it. Chant meaningless predictable crap at it.
I never thought I would be pushed this far in my hatred of a football club, but I can honestly say that the day Sydney Utd loses all of it's decent players, or finishes in the bottom five (eg Mel. Knights), or relegates to the state league, or better still folds, is a day I will welcome. And I will feel no pain for the majority of fans, because they can get lost. They have had their chance (more like several thousand chances), and they have blown it sideways.
Sydney United, please go away.
[Tony Enberg writes]
(For once) I have to agree with big Pete. I was sickened by the whole crappy CRO-ATZ-IA thing that I left well before the end, and had steam coming out of my ears when I heard the report on the radio re. seats rippped up etc etc
. If the nail isn't hammered into the Croatia Divided coffin by Soccer Australia it will just prove how soft they are and they will lose whatever faith most supporters have in them. And this is after their team won. What the hell would have happened otherwise?
Spirit and Marconi fans show the other week what standards of behaviour are all about. Following an extremely tense and at times spiteful 3 encounters in 2 weeks, Spirit fans in particular, despite being more vocal and passionate than these galahs from edensor park, still took it on the chin and sang 'Always look on the bright side of life' instead of throwing flares and seats.
For Spirit, Perth and Marconi fans, we may not have made the GF, but at least we can take comfort in knowing we have a bright future and will still be around in twenty years with a broad support base. Don't worry Pete, surely 'Divideds' d***head fans have only helped to push their club closer to the exit door despite a magnificent season from David Mitchell and the players. Certainly a case of an excellent football team and inferior fans.
[Murray Burfitt was a travelling away fan...]
This is not a football crowd it is a gathering of a minority group using football as the tool and excuse for a venue . it was amazing yesterday at marconi.
These people think they are in zagreb even the kids who probably don't even know where croatia is never mind about actually visiting the country.
The game was flat but the supporters were my main concern.
Now i know why soccer has not gone ahead in the eastern states these people are using the game for there own means .
WOW DID I GET TAUGHT A LESSON YESTERDAY.
[Columnist Ray Gatt reponds to Peter Asby's post]
Big Pete has every right to be angry. I spoke to the police after the match and the guy in charge said ""win, lose or draw they were always going to cause trouble.'' I know Syd Untd have tried to keep them away from their matches and there was supposed to be spotters at the gate to prevent them goin in but there was a communication braekdown between SA and Utd. I was told these fans even made threats to their own officials during the game against South Melb recently.
Having said that, I think Pete is wrong in saying the club should be kicked out because of a fringe element of 50 lunatics. What would happen if 50 Northern Spirit or 50 Marconi or 50 Perth fans decided to cause similar problems??? You can't make a club pay for the sins of a minority.
Having seen the size of Big Pete might I suggest he be allowed to deal with each of the idiots in his own way...now that might solve the problem!!!
[Mike Pantzopoulos joins in the fray..]
Well that's a terrific response. No we shouldn't let the club suffer because of 50 suspect 'fans'. But it's ok to let my sport suffer. If it's only 50 and they're known then why are they allowed to get into the ground? Why isn't there a photo of every single one of these people available to the ticket takers. Or why can't SU administrators walk through the gang checking for them. Stop apologizing for these people mate.
The same thing happened with SM. The club said known trouble-makers wouldn't be allowed on the bus to Sydney, but somehow or other they're allowed into the game every week. Use the power you have. Real football supporters will stand by you.
[Bennett Oprysa is similarly affronted by Ray's words]
Once again Ray simply ignores the facts and continues on with his mindless bullshit about how it's not the club's fault.
There can be no doubt that Ray is intending to run for a position on the SA board, he would fit in perfectly.
How can we possibly continue putting up with such pathetic rhetoric and total lack of action from SA.
SU must go, and so must the SA board.
[Bennett Oprysa, in another post, writes]
Another game involving SU, another game involving violence, ethnic chants, flares....
Another request by fans that SA do something....
High probability of that NOT occurring...
I find it quite ridiculous that Rozanna has basically accepted that SA's position on the matter is that it is more important that we avoid bad publicity than that we deal with the problems.
While it is true that we cannot trust the media to not concentrate on the bad side of the game, that is a totally irrelevant point. They would not do so if there weren't continuous such occurrences.
On the point of fines, I think even Eftimios is too conservative. AFL players currently get fined $2,000 to $5,000 for "wrestling". Surely the fines related to flares at games should be in the region of $50,000 to $100,000. The amount of damage they do to the game's image is even more than that.
The fine for repeated offences should simply be expulsion, something that 90% of soccer fans in this country would be happy about. So why has it not happened?
Just days ago we were being told to leave the security and crowd control measures to SA, because they have thought of everything. Well I'm sorry, but they didn't, and as as far as I am concerned they ARE sitting on their hands and doing NOTHING!
[Mike Pantzopoulos writes]
Yeah you're right Bennett. I was too conservative. I'm now considering whether I should go to the GF next week. As a supporter of SM I'm relishing the thought of back-to-back championships. As a lover of football I'm dreading the thought of flares and crackers being thrown, the atmosphere of violence as the thugs from both teams shape up to each other, supporters of both teams hijacking the game for their ethnic fetish, the singing of the Greek national anthem while the Australian national anthem is being played, the police standing impotent while these pricks ransack the stadium. What galls me even more is that the SM players will trot over to these louts and wave their acknowledgement.
I thought the referee should have abandoned the game yesterday after the cracker was thrown at Franken. In the second half you could clearly see objects being thrown at him when the camera was in close-up for a goal kick.
Every other football code in Australia is open about their behaviour policy for both players and spectators. Only SocAus has an ostrich-like policy. Well Rozanna, if SocAus couldn't control yesterday's game, how the hell is it going to be able to manage next weeks?
It's time SocAus abandoned the NSL as it stands, issue franchises to teams able to meet the criteria for a true Australian National League and told the dead-beat presidents of these clubs that their clubs and supporters bring the game into disrepute and they're better off playing in an ethnic league where they can beat the hell out of each other week by week.
As I've reiterated over the past few weeks, if you can't control the product's image then you have no product.
[Rui Melo also answers Bennett's post]
Well what can one expect from SA when the Melbourne Shites were not even fined for trashing the Breakers dressing rooms? They were ordered to pay costs (about $600 i think) and the players were fined an undisclosed amount by the club ($600/14 no doubt) and thus the matter was settled. It just shows what a joke the code is at the moment. Looking at what happens with other codes with players when they commit offences.
So my tip for all EC players is:
'If you lose a game and you want to get some tension out just trash the dressing rooms of the opposition as in the end it'll only cost you about $50 each and you'll have the time of your life 'cos smashing things up is not only fun but practically endorsed by SA.'
Not only was the lack of fine a concern but thge attempted coverup and the 2+ months of waiting for an outcome. Bravo Soccer Australia BRAVO.
[Fred Legget writes]
It would appear that there is certainly a perverse element among Sydney United "fans" who almost delight in blackening their club's name.
Almost as if they are intent on having a "last hurrah" that indeed forces SA to give them the flick.
Then they will derive great pleasure in announcing to everyone that they were 'victims' of a 'conspiracy'...
In the past I have generally defended SU fans..but was myself the target of a bottle thrown by one of their 'supporters' a year or so back.
It seems that they do not WANT to learn any lessons they may have been given, and as I say, are intent on acclerating their demise...
Sad thing is too, speaking to a middle aged 'Croatzia' (her title) fan at work, she reckons they DON'T have a crowd problem!
[Jimmy (email@example.com) writes]
Well if the non ethnic teams were good enough maybe they could be in the final playing ..but first they have to learn how to play soccer... GOOD ENOUGH TO BE IN A GRAND FINAL......it's AMAZING ALL THE MONEY THEY GET FROM THE HUGE CROWDS ....AND STILL NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO GET IN A GRAND FINAL..... EUROPEANS ARE HERE TO STAY ..... EVER.
[Of course this provoked a lot of responses...Tim Adams writes]
It will only be a matter of time before Spirit and Glory will win something. The infrastructure in the development is not there yet, but how many players in the future will want to play for a club like Sydney United, which has no money and is ashamed of being Australian?
[Lucio Viggiano chimed in]
Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy - it is the likes of you that are the problem - Yes, we should be proud of our heritage and to draw a distinction between Europeans and others shows not only your ignorance but explains why Oz soccer is in the state that it finds itself ! - until people like you and those morons at Sydney "Croatzia" realise they are actually living in Australia and learn to appreciate and respect their cultural heritage rather than clinging to it refusing to develop and grow with the rest of multicultural Australia - then unfortunately soccer in Oz will only continue to go backwards !
Question: How many non Greeks or Croatians will be at Sunday's final ? Answer: About 100 members of the Victorian Police Force.
[Tony Enberg also feels compelled to join in]
I'm afraid, in a word - yes. What's more - and I couldn't think of a worse pairing for the image of Australian, irrespective of the on-field quality - in the red corner we have the equally un-patriotic fans of Edensor Divided. I never thought I would feel this way, but I seriously don't think I want to know anything about this match, let alone watch it on TV.
To Jimmy and all your moronic clones of whatever heritage you posses, if you love Europe so much and find Australia so unappealing, why don't you just p*** off and emigrate there? Mate, how many generations does this sort of crap have to go on for? Jimmy, I'm sure there are many more of us Australian football fans who also have a non-British heritage in our recent past, who are however well adjusted enough keep it in perspective, be proud of it and leave it where it belongs - in our history. With fans like you, history is unfortunately where clubs like South Melbourne and Sydney United will be heading, while those who can move with the times and appeal to ALL Australians conversely, have a future.
At least the support and money will guarantee the future of the Spirits, Glorys and Marconis and will go much further than a few hundred flare throwers, vandals and chanters of things indecipherable to the other 99% of their fellow Australians.
[Gerry Prewett also reponds to Jimmy]
Jimmy mate you are one very sad person and you support one very sad soccer club. You are watching an excellent team who, everyone on the Glory list agrees, deservedly won yesterday. However we (the Glory fans) are watching a team club with a future, you are watching a club with a past. Notice the difference between club and team there?
Ante has assured us that you will get 100,000 at the Sydney Olympic Stadium for the Grand Final, pity it's going to be played in Melbourne. Would you like to estimate how many are going to be there?
Three questions for Rozanna.
What are soccer Australia going to do about;
The flare that was thrown on the pitch (and very obvious on TV)?
The Croatian flags?
The fact that there was no stetcher or ambulance at the ground? It took half and hour to get one there. What if Craig Deans was seriously injured or if a spectator had a heart attack?
It really is time for Soccer Australia to do something. I'm not getting at you Rozanna, we had the pleasure of meeting you when you were over here in Perth for the first game. As you commented at the time, what a fantastic atmosphere there was. Yesterday the much smaller ground wasn't even full! What a disgrace the whole thing was!
[Steve Briant also answers Jimmy]
I think you are right in one thing and one thing only. That is all Australian's that have come from a far deserve to be able to hang onto their heritage, celebrate their culture and have a vehicle to introduce themselves into Australian society. My only complaint, DONT USE SOCCER AS THIS VEHICLE!!!!!!!!!!!
[Daniel Prasnikar offers a counterpoint..or two]
Um, maybe instead of World class supporters, you wanted to say 'World Class Pussies'? I was present at a Marconi home game once and I couldn't believe my ears: there was no supporting whatsoever, and I go "Man, is this what the Aus soccer will look like in the future?"
At least Croatians are more like the best Tifos in Italy, wild, crazy and loving their club. Have you ever people seen an Italian game without flares and torches and other things (even demolition, that's a part of the serious game): I don't think so. AND THAT'S THE BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD!!! So what's this saying about Aus soccer, are these fans really soft or what's going on???
Forza my man, I've no idea how Marconi managed to survive with the fans it has... And if u ask me, Sydney is still United whatever you's may think, with their management and the fans.
To conclude, a fact: UNITED MUST STAY!!! (for the benefit of the game if nothing else)
[Bonita Merdsiades asks Daniel, an ACT resident, why it is he supports Sydney United...Daniel obliges]
Well, Bonnie, there are a number of things I like about Sydney United:
1) They have awesome players and will win the championship this season (although many of you couldn't give a rat's ass about it)
2) They are owned and pretty much fully (unfortunately) supported by people of Croatian background, and I am myself one of them. It would be a shame if I wasn't caring this much about the club.
3) They constantly keep on producing good players and with funds, they'd be the favourites for winning many NSL titles
4) United have the best looking tops in the NSL (try to compare them with say, Perth Glory) - I cannot stop laughing about the idea.
5) I've second supported them since 1995, and will continue to do so in the next millenium (if they survive)
6) They (players, management and the fans, of course) bring some of that European passion much needed in a somewhat impassionate NSL, as it can be at times. A few flares never killed anyone, and as much as I know, we have enough police around to make sure the extremists (the violent ones) are not allowed to the ground, if you really want to make a kindergarten out of a football ground.
7) They've been in NSL for ages, not exactly sure since when, but it'd be a crying shame to watch them fold after numerous years of producing talent and great football.
8) Syd Utd were one of the rare clubs that had more than, say 20 fans watching their team kick Canberra Cosmos' arse. What does that say about neighbour clubs (Spirit, Marconi) who keep on getting crowd numbers of 10-20 thousand, but when it comes to travelling some 250km, the general opinion is 'Nah, they'll beat them by 5, no need for me to watch and support them'. A true fan knows (s)he has to be there and do their best.
I reckon that's about enough reasons, not that i think that it would change a bit of anybody's opinion but those are the facts, hard to swallow for most people on this list, but honest and justified.
[Mike Pantzopoulos pops up again...]
Well. We haven't heard from SocAus yet. They must be deciding if that puff of smoke was a flare or puff the magic dragon making an appearance. Haven't heard from Ray Gatt either. Must be preparing ext Monday's last paragraph regarding the small number of trouble-makers who hijacked the GF and took it back to the Balkans.
[Rozanna Bozabalian, a Soccer Australia emplyoee, writes]
And you are not going to hear from me on this subject - apologies in advance if I disappoint any of you, but to quote many a famous person ... no comment.
Seriously though, I cannot begin to describe to you how I feel about yesterday, both as a soccer lover and as a pr person - please do not ask me any direct questions, because I'm sorry, but on this issue I'm not available.
[Mike Pantzopoulos responds...]
I understand Rozanna. I've never met you, but you've always (nearly) been charming in your dialogues. The job you do is one of the hardest in the world, especially when the organization you represent consists of a bunch of faceless and gutless administrators who hide behind the smug 'old boys' network of journalists, club administrators with vested interests to groups whose primary objective is not football, and a wall of silence that drops whenever anything controversial occurs. The whole organization smacks of the sort of regime the communists were famous for. The only pity is that the game is held in such disrepute that everybody else simply ignores it.
Do these people have e-mail addresses? Let's have some real dialogue instead of the crap that the apologists who pass as journalists present to their editors.
[Bob Figg offers his view on the events]
A longish flight and a couple of days has cooled my ardour somewhat but the time has come for the game's administrators to stop subsidising clubs which want to keep soccer in the dark ages.
I feel very sorry for the Sydney United coaching staff and players, who deserve better for a great performance, often for no pay, this season. I also feel for workers like Rozanna, who has tried so hard this year to be accessible and has certainly improved out of sight Soccer Australia's PR efforts and realised she must go beyond one or two regulars in the Sydney/Melbourne press.
As a regular messenger Rozanna is used to being shot and I can't blame her for not commenting this time.
Chris put the main arguments so eloquently that I can would only add that the biggest laugh of all is that Soccer Australia, by keeping Sydney Utd alive, have probably ensured that all the game's gains in the last three years will be wiped out at a stroke when all the ethnic baggage goes on display at the weekend.
Already here in Perth people attracted to the game by the party atmosphere at home have been lost straight away. We were also on the verge of major announcement here about TV coverage next year and that may have been jeopardised too.
Don't blame the media , we're doing our job when we report such things. Sooner or later these maniacs will kill someone with a bottle or a firework.
The blame lies with Soccer Australia when it consistently goes to the financial aid of clubs which have chosen to ignore the wider audience to satisfy their own nationalistic fringe.
The other area which must change - and now - is the secrecy surrounding penalties. We need action now to send a clear warning to those at the Grand Final. I would strongly suggest a $50,000 fine now and a $200,000 suspended penalty - the fans then know where they stand.
Don't defend the club as not responsible for the actions of the fans. This atmosphere has been deliberately cultivated by appeals to nationalism and now the club must accept the consequences of its actions.
[David Arnold voices the effect these events have on him]
Is anyone having trouble getting the motivation to attend the GF?
I feel the exact same I did when purchasing tix for the Man U games - not going for the sake of the game, but rather a sense I may miss something or regret not going.
But what totally guts me is both teams are good ones and easily deserve to be there - and normally I would leap at the chance to watch both in action, but not this weekend.
"Wanna go watch Souths and Sydney United this weekend?"
"You gotta be kidding..."
[Chris Kunz has the final offering (at least here) with this...]
For far too long, we the real football supporters of this country, who have the health and well-being of this our game at heart, have seen its image repeatedly tarnished by a minority from Sydney United.
From Marconi Stadium to North Sydney Oval to Brandon Park to Belmore to Bruce Stadium, they have exported their ugliness - their flares and other explosive devices, their threats and intimidation and their deliberate disregard for the image of a game we all hold dear.
All along, their parents and peers have done little to stop, rather, seem to encourage their displays of juvenille delinquency and foreign nationalistic protestations - sounds and attitudes so far removed from the relative tranquility and safety that is middle class Australia's embrace of our game for its young.
Can Soccer Australia not see the great irony - that in repeatedly appeasing the ungrateful and inconsiderate minority that Sydney United represent, they are turning their backs and blocking their ears to the hopes and desires of the vast majority of the community they (Soccer Australia) purport to represent.
We had had enough. But enough was long ago! Does our national body stand with the future of the game or its past?
Will it dispense another secret fine or slap - or will it do what it should have done years ago and free our game from the ugliness that is Sydney United?
Supporters in their thousands have demonstrated this last season that there is an alternative. Thousands more in Adelaide, Auckland and other parts of Sydney await a sign that they can join a league of promise and popularity, not one of insularity, division and dwindling crowds.
The big money is waiting and watching too - why would anyone want to pour money into a league that perpetuates foreign hostilities and hatreds and where children cry in terror at the explosions around them and lovers of the game fail to attend as they fear for their safety?
In failing to take the ultimate and responsible action of removing Sydney Utd from the Ericsson Cup, Soccer Australia - our national body - has shown it condones such behaviour and is indirectly responsible for its occurrence and perpetuation.
Now, there can be no excuse. Sydney United no longer deserves a place amongst the football elite. It could and should be expelled for:
1. Repeatedly bringing the game into disrepute through the actions of its
2. Being a financially liability
By its presence Sydney United is blocking the entrance of other Sydney teams that would attract far greater crowd support and be a positive adornment to our game.
Soccer Australia - who will you support - the overwhelming majority of fans who have the future of our game at heart, or will you turn your back on the hope, peace and prosperity of our promised and tangible land, to once more appease those with a chequered past and future?
Please Soccer Australia. We, the majority, who have only love and best wishes for our game and all its genuine supporters in our hearts, beg you to act!