Monday, 17 December 2012

Australia: "Fans unite to weed out racist fools"

RIVAL fans have united to drive racism out the A-League after shameful incidents threatened to overshadow the football last weekend.

Wellington Phoenix front man Paul Ifill revealed he was racially abused during their 3-1 loss to Adelaide United on Sunday.
Ifill, an English born Barbados international tweeted after the game: "Bad times, poor result and racist abuse from a very small minority of fans."
Phoenix accepted an “unequivocal apology” from the Reds following the abuse of their star player with the matter now in the hands of the FFA and South Australian Police.
Fans who spoke to said the problems were isolated but that supporters had to be prepared to name and shame perpetrators.
Adelaide fan Shaun Brennan said comments didn’t come from the active support and out of character for a club that has the most ethnically diverse player group in the league.
“In terms of active support we’re always trying to be intimidating as we can without crossing the line,” Brennan said.
“I think it is definitely an isolated incident – it’s the first time that I’ve heard of anything of this ilk across the league in all the time I’ve been supporting it.
“The fact that it was only coming from one fan and not a group of people certainly makes it easier to try and weed out the individuals and try and educate them on the proper stance we have.”
Brennan stressed the need for fans to self-police.
“If you hear those sorts of comments made you really need to be speaking up to the person,” he said. “We’ve come so far as a society you think people would condemn it as soon as they hear it.”
Phoenix fan David Cross said there was no ill-feeling between the supporter groups over the incident.
“I certainly don’t get a sense from Phoenix fans that it’s indicative of all Adelaide fans,” Cross said.
“Certainly not the ones that have visited us and the ones we meet when we’ve gone there have been really good people.
“But obviously there’s one or a couple of idiots who will, hopefully, be treated appropriately. You would hope that they wouldn’t be seeing an A-League game again.
“It’s something that’s distasteful in any environment and particularly in sport and I’m sure the majority of Adelaide fans feel the same way.
“I’d like to think if something like that occurred in the Fever zone people would police it and identify culprits if need be.”
Brisbane Roar have taken no action over the taunts directed at Albanian-born striker, Berisha, despite the chants being audible by away fans during the match at AAMI Park.
The club maintains no official complaint has been lodged by the player or anyone else, and the incident received less press than that involving Ifill.
But some fans took to Twitter condemning the treatment dished out to the striker – a lightning rod for controversy – saying he was vilified.
Roar supporter, Ben Clark, who sat with the away support during the match said hundreds of Victory fans took up the chant he described as “one hundred per cent racist”.
Despite that, he felt the problem was not widespread.
“In my experience it’s not endemic,” he said. “But that’s what you get from a cross section of society – you’re going to have the idiots in there with the majority of sensible folk.”
Clark said fans should be encouraged to dob in a racist.
“There shouldn’t be any shame or stigma attached to reporting racism in football and I think that may be part of the problem at the minute,” he said
“If you’re standing with a group of mates and one of them is drunk and says something totally outrageous then you’re probably going to say ‘oh he’s just drunk’.
"We’ve really got to encourage people to speak out against it.
“If there had been self-policing in Adelaide then most likely the fans sitting around that guy would have said, ‘No, that’s not acceptable – bugger off’.”
Fellow Roar supporter Troy Chandler says it isn’t just an issue of racism.
He recalled a homophobic chant taken up against Socceroo Robbie Kruse when he was playing for Melbourne Victory against his old club, Brisbane Roar.
“You don’t need to be racist, you don’t need to swear, you can be intelligent, you can have fun, have a laugh and chant all you like – but be smart about it,” Chandler said. “You don’t have to be an idiot.”
Yesterday Football Federation Australia CEO, David Gallop, said anyone who participated in racist chants could expect “a knock on the door” from police.
“Fans know they’ll get banned if they engage in that type of thing,” he said. “Football wants to celebrate its multiculturalism, its diversity and that kind of taunt is something that's not on.
"We have to remember that was a very small minority of people that misbehaved. But our fans need to know we take seriously those issues.”


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