Victoria Police has issued footy fans with a stern warning after yet another serious incident of fan violence emerged.
Two separate fights at Saturday’s match between St Kilda and Collingwood at Etihad Stadium are being investigated by police, with the extremely violent nature of both incidents shocking bystanders.
One of the fights occurred during the match, as Saints and Magpies fans traded insults about the 2010 AFL grand final in a bar before throwing punches, slamming each other into walls and smashing glass.
The other, which took place after the match, saw a supporter shoved through the door of a food shop.
Four matches in the past five rounds have now been marred by fan brawls, and Victoria Police said it would have no hesitation in punishing those who behaved badly.
“Victoria Police treats poor behaviour at sports matches very seriously,” Acting Commander David Clayton told The New Daily.
“Police maintain a highly visible presence at all AFL matches and continue to work closely with the AFL, stadium management and security providers to ensure a safe environment for everyone.
“Anyone found to be drunk, disorderly or behaving in an anti-social manner faces an on-the-spot fine of $777.
“Those doing the wrong thing may also be ejected from the ground, along with a consideration of being banned from the venue or attending the sporting code.”
After viewing the footage of the fights at the Saints-Magpies clash, former AFL great Garry Lyon said the scenes were disgraceful.
He also accused the mainstream media of failing to cover the incidents. If they had occurred at A-League matches people “would be screaming from the top of the trees,” he said.
“That’s as bad a look as you can have for footy,” Lyon said on radio station SEN.
“That’s a fair dinkum punch on. That’s unforgivable. There are women involved, there are men involved.
“The AFL would be absolutely off their nut about that and rightfully so. If that was the soccer, we would be screaming from the top of the trees.”
The AFL did not respond to The New Daily’s questions regarding fan violence at recent matches.
‘I don’t think it is increasing’
Despite the recent instances of fan violence, AFL Fans Association President Gerry Eeman does not believe things have got worse in 2018.
“I don’t think it is increasing. But the visibility is increasing. People now have phones,” he told The New Daily.
“I think footy is a safe place to go and a safe place to be, but there are definite exceptions.
“I don’t think it has gotten worse, but it is something that most fans really don’t like.
“I remember going to the footy as a kid and I saw the odd fight. But it wasn’t reported, as no one had a phone.
“It’s a good thing that these incidents are being filmed, though. It helps people be held to account.”
Eeman said firm action needed to be taken against those who fight at matches as one of the great things about going to watch an AFL clash was the fact you could sit next to an opposition supporter.
“You go to a game and you see kids, men and women. If you go to a soccer game in the UK, you only really see men,” he said.
“We’re very lucky that off the ground, it tends to work really well.
“But the reality is you’re going to get idiots everywhere and footy is not an exception.
“In instances of clear violence, there needs to be bans.”
He called on clubs and grounds to make “a coordinated effort” to weed out the troublemakers and acknowledged that sometimes he felt security staff were not equipped “to deal with volatile situations”.