Saturday, 23 June 2007

The debate flares again

After the recent practice match between Melbourne Victory and South Melbourne and its incidents the debate about flares lit by fans at games has again been raised. Football Federation Australia has raised the possibility of stripping Melbourne Victory of premiership points, fed-up with the lighting of flares during games. Although this would be as a last resort with Ben Buckley stating, "Clearly we can fine the club if we think that's appropriate, we can ban people from the venue and at an extreme end we can deduct points. All those things have to be considered." (Herald Sun, 22 July 2007)

The lighting of flares to celebrate key moments of the game such as goals and kickoff has been prevalent throughout the game in Europe and South America for many years but is it relevant to the game here in Australia. It is often a stereotypical part of the game here in Australia that other codes like to deride. The FFA and Melbourne Victory have both clearly stated that they don't want flares being lit at games. In support of this many of the supporter groups who create a great atmosphere at the games through their chanting have banned flares in any form as part of their support. It is believed that is a rogue element that infiltrates the group on match days that is responsible for the lighting of flares. Personally when I have attended games in South America in Argentina (see photo above of some of the most fanatical supporters in the world, those of Racing Club in Argentina) and Chile, the lighting of flares has added to the atmosphere of the game. But it is only a small part of the equation, other contributions are: the releasing of balloons en mass; throwing of streamers; and chanting and singing throughout the whole game and the playing of drums.

If the club doesn't want it and the association don't want it, then we have to stamp it out and show our support for our team in other ways. I enjoy the atmosphere that is created at Melbourne Victory games by the supporters groups and that's what continually draws me back to the games along with the actual football. We should look at allowing the supporters to bring in balloons, streamers and especially drums and trumpets to increase the atmosphere and noise within the stadium and this will hopefully make it less likely for the rogue elements to want let off flares. We can't have a small minority ruining it for the rest of the supporters and the club itself.

For an excellent article about the recent South Melbourne game, click here.


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