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SBD Global/January 9, 2014/International Football

A-League Reponse To Fan Violence Draws Criticism From Western Sydney's Mateo Poljak

Western Sydney midfielder Mateo Poljak defended the behavior of fans in Australia.
A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Mateo Poljak said that there has been a "widespread overreaction to fan violence in the A-League and insists the behaviour of football fans in Australia is a minor issue compared with other countries," according to Dominic Bossi of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Poljak has "experienced similar incidents in Croatia where he was struck by a flare as a ball-boy during a local derby." Poljak believes that the "response from the public, media and Football Federation Australia has been over the top following a public brawl in Melbourne last month between sections of Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory supporters." While Poljak "does not condone the violent clash between the two supporter groups," he said that football fans here had been too heavily scrutinized for "what he believed was an isolated incident." Poljak was "also critical of the FFA's punishment of the clubs involved, imposing suspended penalties of three match points that will be triggered in the event of a repeat clash" (SMH, 1/9).

NO CONTEST: In Sydney, Tom Smithies reported Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory confirmed that they will not contest FFA's points sanctions. With the clubs and governing body "closing ranks after a weekend of damaging headlines, the three points will be deducted if what FFA termed 'incidents of a significant magnitude' happen before the end of the season." Though officials "declined to spell out what that definition was, in light of security concerns, it's understood that isolated incidents involving individual fans won't be classified as such." Police intelligence "is also likely to play a part, in light of concerns that rogue supporters could don the kit of other clubs in order to cause trouble in their name" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 1/8).
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