Football Federation Australia has called for an end to “physical threats and death threats” directed at a News Corp journalist ahead of a planned walkout from A-League fans due to perceived poor treatment.
After Rebecca Wilson’s article named 198 people currently banned from A-League matches, the fan response has been heated, with Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers supporters planning a walkout protest.
But FFA, who earlier on Wednesday stood by its efforts to eradicate “anti-social” behaviour at A-League games, highlighted the threats made towards Wilson, and called for them to stop.
“FFA has become aware that Sunday Telegraph journalist Rebecca Wilson has received physical threats and death threats,” an FFA statement read.
“While these are matters for the police, FFA has called for these threats to cease.”
Many A-League fans were incensed by the original News Corp article which listed almost 200 people banned from matches by name, with some of those now considering legal action.
FFA chief executive David Gallop distanced the organisation from the leak, saying the list is sent to clubs, venues and police to allow them to enforce the stadium bans.
“We have repeatedly and publicly said that we will identify and ban those who engage in anti-social behaviour at A-League matches. The list is the proof,” said Gallop, who is in New Delhi ahead of the annual Asian Football Confederation awards.
“The list is sent to clubs, venues and police to give them the tools to enforce the bans to protect the true football fans and the atmosphere they generate. We may never know who leaked the list but it was not the FFA.”
Melbourne Victory’s chief supporter group North Terrace and the Wanderers’ Red and Black Bloc have made clear their intention to walk out of this weekend’s A-League fixtures, which could see as many as 2000 fans up and leave the stadium during the match, to draw attention to their grievances.
“There are rumours of how the leak eventuated but, nonetheless, the FFA cannot avoid being held accountable,” a statement by the Red and Black Bloc read.
“This confidential information falls under the FFA’s jurisdiction, and they are complicit in it being exposed.
“People’s lives and livelihoods have been jeopardised due to the existence of a list that has been created without due process.
“Many of these fans, some of which are under 18, have not been charged or convicted of offences.
“The FFA’s silence is deafening. They have treated fans with contempt once again, and active support around the country is standing up to a corporation that sees itself as above the law.
“A disgraceful organisation, from the top down.”
Meanwhile, former Socceroo Mark Bosnich begged FFA to introduce an appeals process for banned spectators, or consider letting the A-League clubs run the competition themselves.
Bosnich said fans who have committed anti-social behaviour should have the book thrown at them – but those who feel they have been banned unfairly should be able to have their cases heard.
“They have not got an appeals process and if you’re just dragged into a situation that has nothing of your doing and you’re just defending yourself, you could get a four, five or six year ban,” Bosnich told Fox Sports News.
“I’m pleading to the FFA, please, please on behalf of all people in football you could nip a lot of this in the bud by saying you will have a proper and fair appeals process.
“If you don’t stand up for your supporters and this is all too much for you then maybe you should just look after the national teams and let the A-League clubs run themselves.”
Melbourne Victory chief executive Ian Robson late on Wednesday issued a statement demanding the FFA enquire as to how the document was made public.
“We have asked FFA as to how the ‘banned spectator document’ was leaked, what safeguards were in place, and what changes will be made to ensure we don’t see a repeat of this,” said Robson.
-AAP, with ABC