Three men were arrested following the fight between fans at Carlton-Collingwood game. (Supplied: Channel Seven)
The AFL is vowing to crack down on crowd violence at footy games, after police charged three men over a serious brawl at the MCG during last weekend’s Carlton-Collingwood game.
- The three men have been charged with affray and released on bail
- The AFL said those involved would be given immediate bans of five years
- A fans association has called for dedicated family seating at football grounds
The three, including a father and son from Rosebud and a man from Diggers Rest, have been charged with affray after the fight inside the stadium just before the final siren.
They have been released on bail, while a fourth man has handed himself into police.
The incident, one of a number of recent violent fights between fans at the footy, has prompted concerns the game is no longer safe for families.
Melbourne mother Lee Quinlan took her family to a game at Docklands stadium last weekend and said the verbal aggression started from the first bounce of the ball.
“Before quarter time in the football my seven-year-old son was in tears,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“He wanted to leave the match and didn’t feel safe. He was visibly shaking, he was upset.”
Ms Quinlan said she had noticed a “real cultural shift in crowd behaviour” at the footy.
“It’s not just one or two people,” she said.
“It’s not okay to be showing our children that this is what a sporting event is like.”
Ms Quinlan said her family moved to different seats but would not be renewing their memberships in the future.
In March, the opening AFL match between Richmond and Carlton was marred by a brawl between a number of men, one of whom was fined $322.
Banned for five years
Victoria Police’s Commander Tim Hansen said families should never be afraid to come to the footy.
“A lot of effort goes on between the police, the AFL and MCC to make sure it is a secure and family-friendly environment,” he said.
Those charged over last weekend’s incident will get an immediate five-year ban from the football, the AFL’s general manager of operations Travis Auld said.
He maintained a small number of people were ruining the football for the majority of fans.
“We’ve had 2.5 million fans who’ve already been to games so far this season in what is really a family-friendly environment,” Mr Auld said.
“We intend to keep it that way.
“Those banning notices are for five years. They will not be welcome back to the football for five years anywhere around the country.
“That is a harsh penalty and we make no apology for it.”
Mr Auld said the league would even consider lifetime bans but would not speculate on what might prompt such a ban.
Gerry Eeman, the president of the AFL Fans Association, said he believed there was a growing desire for family-friendly seating zones at footy grounds but said there was no incentive for the clubs, which control the seating for their home games.
“Crowds are at record highs. The crowds this year have been really healthy so if you just look at the bottom it’s just not being impacted at this point,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“Clearly a lot of people are still happy going.”