Australian soccer chiefs yesterday vowed zero tolerance for anti-social behavior after banning two fans for five years following violence marring warm-up games for the A-League season.
The crackdown on hooliganism follows a brawl that erupted on Wednesday during a friendly between new A-League side Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney United.
The incident was sparked when someone threw a firecracker into the crowd. Up to 60 people turned on police, who responded with pepper spray, when they tried to find the culprit.
Last week, violence marred a game between Sydney and the Macarthur Rams, with a man knocked out and a rock hitting a six-year-old boy in the head during a fight, also sparked by a flare thrown at a group of fans.
Football Federation Australia (FFA) said a man who activated a flare and another who let off a firework would be banned from all Australian matches for five years.
“The troublemakers who bring the game into disrepute with their reckless behavior have no place in the game,” FFA chief Ben Buckley said. “The incidents over the past week were the work of a few idiots who wanted to cause trouble.”