Media and police told to avoid stereotyping of football fans
A majority report from the Senate Economic References Committee has pointed advice to the NSW Police and media05 May 2016 | FT Editor
The Senate Economic References Committee has today released its third interim report as part of its inquiry into Personal choice and community impacts. This one is concerned with Western Sydney Wanderers supporters. The previous two were related to bicycle helmets and the sale and use of marijuana.
The majority report makes uncomfortable reading for some. It essentially sides with the evidence given by the club itself, via CEO John Tsatsimas, and representatives of the RBB that there is a cultural misunderstanding between the NSW Police, some sections of the media and the active supporters of Western Sydney.
FFA’s flip-flopping about an appeals process makes unedifying reading. The committee notes the importance of a “transparent, well communicated and fair appeal process” and is encouraged by announced changes by “Mr Lowry” (sic).
Amongst other things, the committee:
- “... encourages both the NSW Police and media organisations to view A-League supporters in the same way they view other dedicated sporting fans, without resorting to stereotyping or demanding they behave in an identical manner to the supporters of other football codes, or of cricket.”
The Committee also reminds the NSW Police that they should not ascribe criminal intent on the basis of racial profiling, reminding them that “criminal behaviour is undertaken by individuals, not groups” and with reference to the recently completed Hillsborough Inquest. They conclude by stating that it is not the role of the police to make a culturally-based value assessment of behaviour and speech but to ensure public safety.
There is a dissenting report from Senator Sean Edwards (Liberal, South Australia) who particularly disagrees with the latter point, noting that “many offences are enshrined in law on the basis that they offence certain community values” and police do have a responsibility to enforce those laws. Senator Edwards also notes evidence from the NSW Police which showed that in the same timeframe in which eight fans were banned from NRL matches, 100 fans were banned from Western Sydney Wanderers matches.
Other members of the Senate Economic References Committee are:
- Senator Chris Ketter, Chairman (Labor, Queensland)
- Senator Sam Dastyari (Labor, NSW)
- Senator David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats, NSW)
- Senator Dean Smith (Liberal, WA)
- Senator Nick Xenophon (Independent, SA).
a-league, western sydney wanderers, senate