Statement from FFA CEO David Gallop
When The Sunday Telegraph contacted me about a leaked list of 198 people banned from attending matches in the Hyundai A-League, my reaction was to say "what part of banning 198 people supports the allegation that FFA is in denial?
The existence of the list says it all. We have repeatedly and publicly said that we will identify and ban those who engage in anti-social behaviour at A-League matches. The list is the proof.
Since the publication of the story about the banned list, many in the game have pointed fingers about the list and how it came to be published.
The list is sent to clubs, venues and police to give them the tools to enforce the bans to protect the true football fans and the atmosphere they generate. Chances are we will never know who leaked the list and why they did it, but that's not the main issue. Suffice to say, it wasn't leaked by FFA.
The crux of the issue remains - when the people in charge of law and order in our nation - the various state police forces - identify an individual who has engaged in serious anti-social behaviour, we are compelled to act. We don't want those people at our matches.
As part of regular security procedures we are meeting with Police, stadiums and fan groups this week.
FFA, in conjunction with Police, A-League clubs and various security consultants, has systems in place to identify individuals who don't behave and don't belong.
Some face criminal charges as a result of their actions. Even if they don't, FFA and its clubs have a right to determine who can attend A-League matches.
If you come to our attention because of serious anti-social behaviour, you are liable to be banned. Every A-League club has a home ground and if you enter someone's home you need to respect the host.
That being said, I also want to take the opportunity to acknowledge the millions of fans who love our game of football and create an incredible atmosphere at our matches. More than 1.8 million fans come to Hyundai A-League matches across a season, and all but a few come to enjoy the football and support their team.
These fans are the heartbeat of the game.
When we say we want the best atmosphere in Australian sport and a family-friendly environment, the two goals are compatible and achievable. We just don't want people who go to the football and break the law or disturb the enjoyment of fellow fans, no matter where they sit.
I am in New Delhi this week for meetings and the annual Asian Football Confederation (AFC) awards, where Australia has been nominated in several prestigious categories, including Member Association of the Year (based on the hugely successful hosting of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup), National Team of the Year (Socceroos – based on winning the AFC Asian Cup), Coach of the Year (Ange Postecoglou) and Female Player of the Year (Elise Kellond-Knight).
I will promote Australian interests within AFC forums, including the AFC Competitions Committee, of which I am a member. I encourage everyone to support the A-League in the right way this weekend.
We must all continue to work together on our mission to make football the biggest and most popular game in Australia and the 1.8 million fans who attend A-League games are a huge part of that.
We are Football.