‘Our game is in tatters’: Australian football reacts with shock to Melbourne derby violence | A-League Men

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Australian football has reacted with a mixture of shock, anger, sadness and disbelief to the chaotic and violent scenes that resulted in the abandonment of the A-League Men’s Melbourne derby on Saturday night.

City goalkeeper Thomas Glover was left bloodied after he was hit by a metal bucket allegedly thrown by a Victory fan as supporters stormed the pitch midway through the first half of the match at AAMI Park.

The unprecedented incident left stakeholders in the game – from players and clubs to fans and administrators – wondering how this could happen so soon after the Socceroos’ successful World Cup run had engendered such optimism for the future of football. People are asking whether there is a way back for the game in Australia.

“Our game is in tatters,” Central Coast Mariners goalkeeper Danny Vukovic wrote on Twitter. “An absolute disgrace what happened tonight. Cannot believe we are here after such an amazing WC and so much potential to see our game grow. Irreparable damage done. Darkest day for football in Australia.”

The incident came after a day of protests at other A-League grounds, following the Australian Professional Leagues’ controversial decision to sell off the next three grand finals to Sydney. Walkouts had been planned by fans ahead of this weekend’s round, and earlier on Saturday at Newcastle and on the Central Coast supporters had made their protests by exiting at the 20-minute mark.

But things turned sour amid a tinderbox derby atmosphere in Melbourne when Glover threw a flare that landed on the pitch back into the stands occupied by Victory’s active support. The chaos that ensued led to calls for life bans for those responsible for the violence and questions about the future of the game in Australia.

That is an absolute disgrace from the Melbourne Victory fans. Not what football in this country needs and I hope whoever threw that bucket is banned from ever attending another A-league match. @aleaguemen

— Ben Garuccio (@Bengaruccio) December 17, 2022

“Hey remember all that goodwill and warm fuzzy feelings towards the round ball game in Australia from a week ago?” said Akash Fotedar of the ABC. “No, me either. Those idiots at AAMI Park have gone and cooked it. Walk out, don’t walk on. Leave the players and referees alone.”

This is a shameful night for Australian football. All the goodwill generated by the fabulous Socceroos has been trashed. I’m embarrassed and disgusted. I’ve been on the football mission for most of my life, but I don’t know where to turn next. https://t.co/Qb0AoYZUs0

— Matt Connellan (@MattConnellan) December 17, 2022

TV presenter Melanie McLaughlin said she was “disgusted” by the scenes “but mostly sad”, while former Sydney FC player Michael Zullo was “ashamed, embarrassed, infuriated”. “The damage done to our game tonight is inconceivable,” Zullo said. “All our hard work, ruined. We can only hope that those responsible are dealt with accordingly. Disgraceful.”

I honestly don’t know what the next step for the game is from here. I’m just completely heartbroken.

Two weeks ago, I was in Qatar watching the Socceroos challenge Argentina in the World Cup knockouts and now I’m seeing this as soon as I return home. #MelbDerby

— Tom Williams (@TomWilliamsPol) December 17, 2022

Former player turned commentator Robbie Cornthwaite wrote: “Disgrace. Embarrassment. If that’s your reaction we don’t want you anywhere near the game. Ban them for life. Shame on you!”

Football in Australia is self destructing on national television.

It’s beyond infuriating. Just disgusting and unforgivable.

We don’t deserve the game we love if this is how disrespectful and despicable we are as fans.#MelbDerby

— Francis Leach (@SaintFrankly) December 17, 2022

Football Australia has called a press conference for 10am AEDT on Sunday when the chief executive, James Johnson, will face the media.

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