Greece’s football fans love setting off their flares at games all over the world. During the international friendly between Australia and Greece at Eithad Stadium flares were set off in spite of warnings from the Football Federation Australia (FFA) preceding the match that such actions would not be tolerated.
The match ended in victory for Greece with a final score of 2-1, however, many fans are still in a predicament as the FFA had indicated it will look to punish fans who lit flares during the Socceroos’ friendly with Greece with a five-year ban.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Russell Barrett said that of the 33,000 plus spectators who were at the stadium on Tuesday, only around 30 flares were ignited, one which was thrown under a bus in Melbourne’s CBD as fans in a group of around 200 marched through the traditional Greek precinct on the way to the match.
“There seems to be a notion within this group that [flares are] not dangerous,” he said. “We’ve seen incidents both overseas and in Victoria within the last two years where people have been seriously injured as a result of coming into contact with these flares.”
Although there were no arrests during the pre-match incidents, Barry believes that with the help of CCTV they will be able to make positive identification of more culprits who will then face criminal charges.
The FFA has been cracking down on pyrotechnics and reckless fan behavior in recent times, having already set punishment for Victory and Western Sydney.
“FFA reiterates its firm position: we do not want these people at football matches in Australia. FFA will work with Victoria Police to identify the offenders and impose mandatory bans of five years on those found to have ignited flares.”