An open letter to the Football Family from David Gallop AM

Following the events of the last two weeks, and the implementation of the new National Banning Procedure, FFA CEO David Gallop AM has written an open letter to the Football Family.

Anti-social behaviour at A-League matches has become the issue of the day in Australian football. It’s a topic I feel needs to be raised with the sensible and responsible people of the Football Family.

That’s why I’m writing directly to you to explain the thinking behind the decisions taken by FFA over the past week. I want you to know that they have been made with your interests in mind.

Whether you are a player, coach, referee, volunteer or fan, I want you to feel proud of your chosen sport and feel good about being a part of the Football Family.

Regrettably, in the past week the good name of football has been tarnished by a few idiots. Though small in number, their actions have cast a huge shadow over the game.

No sports administrator wants to take decisions that impact on the sporting competition, but that’s the choice we made in the case of the Wanderers. Today, FFA issued a Show Cause notice to Melbourne Victory following the incidents at AAMI Park on Saturday night.

Yes, the A-League is our national showcase. If a three-point deduction were to be imposed it could affect the Premiership Plate, Asian Champions League qualification and the destiny of the championship.

But none of that outweighs the importance of the sport being conducted in safe, family-friendly environment. No sporting consideration can be put before the safety and enjoyment of ordinary fans.

We will continue to do what’s right for the vast majority of people like you.

In the public debate, I’ve heard the question asked: what’s wrong with football’s culture?

Let me make this clear. The culture that makes football the most popular participation sport in Australia is healthy and wholesome.

Our game has so many good qualities and so many good people. It pains me to hear broad-brush assumptions that are unfair to those who love football.

What we are dealing with is not a cultural problem, but anti-social elements that use football as a platform for their idiotic behaviour. Igniting flares in a public place is dangerous behaviour.

The other notable decision taken this week was the introduction of a new Fan Banning Procedure. We have made changes to make the system comprehensive in the way it deals with incidents, with an opportunity for people accused of anti-social behaviour to make a submission prior to a Banning Notice being enforced. The new procedure allows an avenue for an appeal to an independent panel.

But I must make it clear; do not view these changes as a sign that our resolve has diminished in tackling troublemakers.

FFA will do whatever is necessary, no matter the short-term pain, to protect the good name of football and all those who participate in our great sport.