A-League clubs urged to join forces in war on hooligans

Former Soccer Australia chairman Remo Nogarotto insists all A-League clubs need to pull together to fight the common enemy of hooliganism.

wanderers fans

Unruly fans are damaging the A-League Source: Getty Images

Nogarotto is alarmed at the escalation of unruly and illegal behaviour at A-League matches and said the clubs, regardless of whether they have a fan problem or not, face one of their most difficult battles in the history of the competition.

"It's a problem that requires solidarity from all the clubs," Nogarotto said.

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"It should not be seen as just a big-city phenomenon - it's about the integrity of the A-League brand so every club has an interest in protecting that brand.

"A-League clubs have been pushing for more autonomy for some time so the public management of this issue is a good test of how they would act in an autonomous framework."



Nogarotto, who spends most of his time abroad but retains a deep interest in all aspects of football in Australia, was speaking after two serious incidents involving Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory fans cast a shadow on the competition and sparked an aggressive nationwide media reaction.

"My message to all clubs is to hold firm because it's their brand and it's the A-League football brand that is on the line here," he said.

"I thought Kevin Muscat's words earlier in the week were superb and the game's leading players need to be more visible and strident in their condemnation of the sort of anti-social behaviour that we have seen lately.

"This should not be about the game's administration and the fans - it is a whole-of-game problem that requires a whole-of-game response from administrators, coaches, players and the vast majority of responsible football-loving fans.

"We deal in a world where perception is reality and even though the extent of the problem may be isolated to minority elements at some clubs the perception is that football has a problem and that is potentially very damaging."
Nogarotto said he had no doubt that the issue of active fans' behaviour is Football Federation Australia's biggest headache at the moment.

"It's their biggest problem, yes, because what you are talking about is damage to the A-League brand," he said.

"And once your brand is damaged that has a direct impact on key aspects of your business, most notably revenue."

Nogarotto said he agreed with those who believe that the clubs must be held fully accountable for their own fans' behaviour.

"At the end of the day the buck has to stop somewhere and it is squarely at the feet of the clubs," he said.

"Anyone who understands the phenomenon of ultras and fan bases knows that it requires ongoing monitoring and policing.

"Tough sounding rhetoric when a problem emerges in order to appease head office is too little too late."

Nogarotto said football may be paying a price for not nipping the fan issue in the bud when it was a much less serious problem a few years ago.

"We were all too busy patting ourselves on the back at the growth and trajectory of the league and ignore the fact that these so-called 'small and isolated' fan incidents had the potential, if allowed to go unchecked, to grow into a bigger problem," he said.


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3 min read
Published 16 February 2016 at 5:54pm
By Philip Micallef