Melbourne Victory has accepted a reprimand from Football Federation Australia under the National Code of Conduct following the lighting of a flare at the Melbourne Derby at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
After reviewing a submission from the club, FFA recognised in its determination the significant shift amongst Victory supporters who showed their displeasure and then identified the perpetrator.
“For a long time now we have been very strong in our stance regarding flares and anti-social behaviour at Melbourne Victory games,” said Victory CEO Ian Robson.
“As a result of the issues we encountered last season with crowd behaviour, which resulted in a $50,000 fine and suspended three-point sanction, we undertook a comprehensive review of active areas, specific to structure and standards.
“The review led to a number of changes to the minimum standards in the Victory active areas, which our fans have adopted and supported.
“There has been a clear shift in the mindset and attitude of our fans regarding anti-social behaviour, and their reaction at last week’s game is a clear demonstration of there being no tolerance to flares at our games.
“We are encouraged by this, and reinforce to everyone that we need to continue our commitment to vigilance on this matter, while also ensuring our active areas are vibrant, safe and enjoyable, creating the unique and inclusive atmosphere our club is accustomed to.”
Head of Hyundai A-League Greg O’Rourke said: “FFA has received a detailed submission from Melbourne Victory and the club has been issued with an official reprimand.
“In making the determination, FFA has placed considerable significance on the Melbourne Victory supporters who voiced their displeasure and then helped identify the perpetrator, who was removed from the stadium and will go through the FFA Banning Process. This behaviour is refreshing.
“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.
“Before the start of the season, FFA and the clubs launched a National Flare Campaign in collaboration with police and stadiums where players and coaches asked football fans through video screen messages, member letters and social media to help rid their clubs of disloyal fans discharging flares.
“FFA recognises that 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 and show disloyalty to their club.
“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.”