Last week, Sydney F.C. sealed a domestic treble by beating Adelaide United 2-1 in the FFA Cup final, but an all-in brawl dampened what should have been an historic moment for Sydney.
The brawl occurred between the two sides when Adelaide United player Michael Marrone shoved a ball-boy in frustration in extra-time, which led Sydney F.C. substitute Matt Simon to react and spark the brawl.
Whilst tussles off the ball between opposing players are fairly common in modern football, this was far more than just that. All players, substitutes and coaches from both teams joined the conflict before the police were brought in to break up the fighting.
Whilst it is understandable that tensions should rise in such an important game as this cup final, the violence exhibited can never be condoned on or off the football pitch.
With media coverage for football being greater than ever before and an attendance of 13,452 at the match at the Allianz Stadium, the professionals involved sent a very poor message to football fans and sports enthusiasts.
It is important to note that the brawl between Sydney and Adelaide is not an isolated event, as there have been many other high-profile clashes between football players over the years.
Incidents between famous teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea spring to mind when referring to mass brawls in football over the past 20 years, and this example of Sydney and Adelaide shows that nothing is really changing.
These events are arguably becoming more rare as the game evolves with stricter laws now being placed on violent offenders, but fighting on the pitch could lead to serious issues off the pitch.
Notorious groups of football fans have been known for their hooliganism off the field, and fighting on the pitch could serve to permeate violence throughout the football community.
A notable example of this came in one of football’s biggest competitions, Euro 2012, when Russian football fans marched through the streets of Warsaw and were viciously attacked by groups of Polish football fans.
The well-documented hooliganism that gripped English football in the 1980s with infamously violent groups such the ‘Millwall Bushwackers’, associated with Millwall F.C., and the ‘Red Army’, associated with Manchester United, should also be considered when thinking about violence in sport.
Whilst the crowd remained peaceful and friendly during the recent Australian Cup Final, the violence on the pitch could easily be reflected off it.
Footballers today receive vast amounts of publicity and therefore, whether they like it or not, are role models for fans and aspiring players. Brawls on the pitch in some of football’s biggest games do not send a good message to the wider community or do anything to curb the often too prominent hooliganism in football.
There was a very pertinent example of this earlier in October when Everton and Lyon players clashed in a Europa League match at Goodison Park and fans got involved in the violence. A man holding a child in the stands was subsequently given a lifetime ban by Everton football club for his attempts to injure a Lyon player from the sideline.
Whilst this fan obviously acted in a wholly unacceptable manner, he was clearly influenced by the players that he passionately supports. Sports are intense not only for the players but also for the fans, as most supporters want to get as involved in the game as possible. In this instance, the man may have been simply following his idols.
Football is a physical and intense game, which is not a bad thing, but players must take more care to curb their tempers and channel their aggression into the game rather than each other.
The example of Sydney’s victory being marred by a mass brawl shows how the beautiful game can be scarred by violence.
Picture Courtesy of Simon_sees