FFA feeling pressure of outsiders as flare debate heats up

FFA feeling pressure of outsiders as flare debate heats up


The manner in which the flares on Saturday were dealt with portrays the moral panic from those outside of the code. 

Wanderers fans have every right to be furious about the double-standards of the show cause notice their club received on Monday afternoon.

Melbourne Victory fans, who let off a solitary celebratory flare after Besart Berisha opened the scoring minutes after the bombardment of devices went off in the away end are technically just as complicit.

This is not about who did what, or even the larger point about how the policing of flares in general is a laboured endeavour, but moreover about how they are governed in their current format.

What is clear – the RBB made a poor judgement of error by putting on a bigger show.

There are many games a season where flares are let off – City fans, Sydney FC fans – but no one says a word. The back pages are silent, no one on Twitter or Facebook complains. Everyone at the game shakes their heads or laughs it off, and just carries on.

Football people, while some are not fans of it, accept the c’est la vie nature of the whole thing and see it for what is – the same adolescent-like thumbnosing of authority that makes people listen to Rage Against the Machine.

It is a cheap and inexpensive middle-class thrill. The wealthy hunt the game with high-powered rifles, bear chested or Lacoste-wearing types light flares at football games. The principle is similar – get the heart racing by doing something semi-dangerous to break out of the boredom of everyday life.

The reality is that the RBB would have got away with their pyrotechnic show had they not reached for the stars and had the game called off for a few minutes because of the amount of smoke.

These scenes halted play
These scenes halted play

This is not condoning the behaviour, nor is it saying no action should be taken. Someone must be made to answer for what happened, regardless of whether the way flares are handled is a constant dead-end.

This is merely a reflection of what the FFA has to deal with whenever an incident like this occurs.

The reason why so many flares can be let off without widespread derision at many obscure games like a Perth vs Victory or Roar vs Sydney game, is because these outsiders are not proactively tuned in.

For many of those following on social media, they did not even know Victory fans ripped a flare, because they were not even watching nor care enough in general.

What the FFA has to take into account every time a punishment is handed out for matters like this – appease those who will never tune in or will drop their money at the gate.

The punishment should have stopped at the four individuals who were removed from the ground for their actions. The club has been dragged into it, due to the embarrassing hyperventilation of the ‘remove the off-side rule’ types.

This was a fantastic opportunity for the FFA to implement their new banning process – both winning over fans with how they’ve listened, but also remained harsh on those who were arse-clowning around by targeting them.

It would have been a politically savvy move that could have won them a lot of beneficial gains in both camps.

However, the move of trying to prosecute the whole club, is adding fuel to the fire and allowing the non-football fraternity more of a licence to criticise. 

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