I remember, circa 1991 or 1992, during the troubles in what was then called Yugoslavia, going with a Greek friend down to South Melbourne to watch the soccer team then known as South Melbourne Hellas play against the team then known as Melbourne Croatia.
I think that the game was then in the national league, although my interest in soccer was and still in more in observing the buffoonish behaviour of members of the crowd than in what happens on the pitch.
After all, scoring happens so rarely that the game is exceedingly boring.
At one point early on the game, the Croatian team kicked a goal and the South Melbourne Hellas supporters all started chanting ‘Serbia! Serbia!’
This sort of behaviour is why, when the A-League was formed, ethnic based nomenclature and symbolism was banned from A-League clubs, leading to the formation of new clubs supposedly lacking in ethnic affiliations.
Mind you, I have been told by a now former friend who mindlessly embraced Melbourne Victory that the team’s theme song is ‘Scotland The Brave’, which shows up a degree of hypocrisy in the A-League’s efforts to stamp out ethnic identity and the related hooliganism.
This is a good moment for me to pause and inform you, gentle reader, that I consider Melbourne Victory supporters generally to be a bunch of tossers and morons, and that I marginally prefer Melbourne City, even though it is part of a sports washing conspiracy. [Of course, whether you call it Soccer or Association Football, I still consider it to be a very boring and tedious sport.]
Soccer fans held a pitch invasion during the Victory-City derby this weekend, which has been described as Australia Soccer’s darkest day. Apparently they were angry about the decision to sell the rights to host the A-League Grand Final for the next few years to Sydney, and decided to hold a protest. [Such people obviously are innumerate, and cannot appreciate that the reason for that rights sale was that the TV rights for soccer were sold so cheaply due to the lack of interest in that pathetic sport that there was a funding shortfall.]
The protest was, as expected, rather farcical, and quickly generated into a pitch invasion, rather like the soccer riot which Groundskeeper Willie led in the episode of The Simpsons where a soccer match is held in Springfield.
Which is to say that soccer in Australia can be taken as seriously as it can be on a cartoon show like The Simpsons. It is a magnet for hooliganism of all sorts, and moronic behaviour.
The CEO of one of the teams said today that life bans on the fans who participate in the pitch invasion would be insufficient punishment.
I agree. I think that both Melbourne Victory and City should be suspended from the A-League for the rest of this season as a penalty, and that they should not be readmitted to the A-League for the 2023-24 season unless they can demonstrate that they can control those pathetic losers whom they count amongst their supporters.
But you would not be surprised to see me write that. Any measure which stifles soccer in Australia sounds good to me, and I can think of heaps more.