Football Australia has opened an investigation into fans from NSW National Premier Leagues (NPL) outfit Sydney United 58 for “anti social behaviour” during the Australia Cup final against Macarthur.
Macarthur claimed the 2-0 victory, but behaviour in the stands was the biggest talking point after the match despite Sydney United 58’s historic rise through the tournament to become the first NPL club to qualify for the final.
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A section of the 16,461 fans packed into CommBank Stadium raised alarm among the viewing public when the game’s Welcome to Country ceremony was marred by boos and chants even as spokesperson Erin Wilkins tried to deliver her message.
Once the game got underway the fans grew bolder as the cameras panned around the stadium, capturing some doing Nazi salutes.
FA officials released a statement, confirming a probe is underway.
“Football Australia acknowledges and strongly condemns the actions of a small minority of individuals who engaged in behaviour that is not consistent with Football Australia’s values and wider community expectations,” it read.
“Football Australia took steps during the match to address some isolated behaviours by a small minority of individuals, including facilitating the evictions of eight people.
“Football Australia is today assessing all footage and images available of certain individuals which are of concern to our organisation and the broader Australian football community, including the displaying of the “Hitler salute”.
“Football Australia is working closely with the management of CommBank Stadium and NSW Police to determine strong and swift action on any identified anti-social behaviour, which may also be deemed as illegal in the state of NSW.”
The governing body also addressed the crowd behaviour during the Welcome to Country.
“Football Australia also acknowledges that the noise level of the crowd during the Welcome to Country performed by Erin Wilkins before the commencement of the game reached unacceptable levels. We regret that this occurred and are reviewing all available footage and audio to further analyse the incident.
“Football Australia has been in direct communication with Erin Wilkins during and since the match and will continue to receive hers and the Football Australia National Indigenous Advisory Group’s guidance on this matter.
“Football is for all, where there is absolutely no place for anti-social behaviour in our game or the community at large.
Football Australia will be holding discussions with Sydney United 58 FC about the behaviour of certain fans, which could lead to both individual and club sanctions.”
The vision sparked a storm on social media among fans and commentators who labelled the scenes “embarrassing”.
The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies made a statement on Sunday.
“These vile symbols and salutes have no place in modern Australian society,” CEO Darren Bark said.
“They represent the ultimate manifestation of evil – an evil which led to the murder of millions of innocent civilians during WWII, including six million Jews and thousands of Australian diggers who lost their lives fighting against the Nazis during WWII.
“Reprehensible conduct such as this causes immense distress to the victims of Nazi crimes and their descendants, whilst undermining our cohesive multicultural society.”
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