Football 2 years ago

Flare lighters face criminal charges

  • Flare lighters face criminal charges

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 07: A flare is set off amongst Greek supporters in the crowd during the International Friendly match between the Australian Socceroos and Greece at Etihad Stadium on June 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Football Federation Australia has foreshadowed five-year bans for fans who lit flares before and during the Socceroos' friendly with Greece.

Several flares were ignited in Melbourne's CBD on Tuesday night as hundreds of fans marched through the city's traditional Greek precinct towards Etihad Stadium to watch Greece's 2-1 triumph.

Scuffles also broke out when police arrived, with reports one officer was taken to ground and a flare thrown into the path of an oncoming bus.

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Prior to the match, police vowed to crack down on anti-social behaviour from fans.

However, there were no arrests during the pre-match incidents, which are being investigated.

A flare was also set off at the match, during which five people from the 33,622-strong crowd were evicted and one person arrested for hindering police after being refused entry.

"Police have expressed their disappointment over the actions of a small number of fans who have acted with complete disregard for the safety of other supporters and families attending the soccer," a Victoria Police spokesperson said.

"Letting off flares is a real risk to other patrons, especially children in the crowd, and is incredibly irresponsible behaviour."

FFA slammed those involved and warned bans would follow.

"A few reckless individuals ignited flares in city streets and behaved in an anti-social manner," an FFA spokesperson said.

"FFA reiterates its firm position: we do not want these people at football matches in Australia.

"FFA will work with Victoria Police to identify the offenders and impose mandatory bans of five years on those found to have ignited flares."

The governing body has endured a busy A-League season cracking down on pyrotechnics and fan behaviour.

They handed Western Sydney a suspended three-point penalty and $50,000 fine after finding the club guilty of bringing the game into disrepute in February.

The punishment came after a small group of away fans ignited about 20 flares, as well as crowd-frightening detonators, during a match against Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium.

A week later, Victory were given the same punishment after poor behaviour at the Melbourne derby, when two flares were ripped, missiles were thrown onto the pitch and a TV news crew outside AAMI Park was allegedly assaulted.

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