Real supporters, don’t let cowards kill our game

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

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Stadium violence
As someone whose life has been football for over 50 years, I am disgusted, embarrassed and ashamed at what happened on Saturday (“Victory face closed-door games after fan violence”, 19/12). To all the critics from the AFL, NRL and the media – you were right. It is soccer’s problem and its alone.
To the FFA and APL – the rioters on Saturday are a cancer on our game and a Band-Aid solution doesn’t solve the problem – they need to be removed.

To real football fans – the dad who takes his five-year-old to play his first game, to the young girl who loves the game and her new teammates, to the young Ronaldo lookalikes and to the ageing Sunday afternoon amateurs – don’t give up! Don’t let a small group of cowards hiding behind their black caps kill your game.
Peter Mcloughlin, Mount Eliza

An atmosphere poised to erupt
The shameful and cowardly scenes at AAMI park on Saturday night, so soon after the delight of our World Cup performance, have been on the agenda for many years, as Melbourne Victory FC ignored the warning signs. Flares have been a constant feature of their games, and the boisterousness of “active support” has often been on the edge of eruption.

As a life-long supporter and participant in many aspects of the game, I’m at a loss to understand why the club has never managed to eradicate the flares, and some within the North Terrace mob have been allowed to dictate the image of the club. The club has danced with the devil to the tune of “atmosphere”, and is now complaining of its toes being trodden on. The chief executive and, more importantly, the chairman should be considering if their position is in the best interests of the game.
Mike Pantzopoulos, Ashburton

A colossal own goal
The violence at AAMI Park on Saturday is not just a question of fan behaviour. The courts will deal with that. The bigger problem is the nod-and-wink tolerance that the A-League and its clubs extend to the flare fetishists in many A-League crowds. The dopes who think they are not having fun unless they are imitating the Ultras of European football. The clubs and the league could have stamped that behaviour out. The technology has existed for years – ask Tennis Australia.

The AFL will be laughing themselves silly at the colossal own goal that the A-League has scored. Melbourne Victory must be stripped of its licence. Anything less will encourage the thugs in football’s fan base, discourage true lovers of football and put the game back 20 years.
Alun Breward, Malvern East

Attack made no sense
Certainly, the Melbourne A-League soccer fans should feel unhappy about the finals being moved to Sydney, but why would they attack the players? They didn’t make the decision.
David Ginsbourg, East Bentleigh

Prevent the flare-up
As a boat owner, I’m required to buy and carry flares. I have no problem if, due to the unlawful use, ID had to be produced and recorded when flares were purchased. This would give the police a head start when tracking down the idiots who let these off in public.
Stephen Dinham, Metung

Ban males, not everyone
The latest male violence in the A-League men’s competition has provoked calls for mandatory matches behind closed doors for Melbourne Victory. I have a better suggestion – free entry for women, with men locked out. It would provide safe spaces for genuine female fans. It would encourage attendance by women and build support for the Women’s World Cup in 2023. And finally, it would remind male fans about the experience of women in so many countries where access to basic freedoms – including attendance at soccer matches – is banned.
Philomena Horsley, Northcote

THE FORUM

Ignoring the real needs
“PM flags rise in defence spending” (The Age, 19/12) is anathema to the real needs of the country. Putting Australia on a “self-reliant” trajectory against a regional power seems to be the current hysteria. Coupled with this is the interoperable and “interchangeable” connection with the US military. The Labor Party is losing its way with such arrangements with the continuation of our involvement in AUKUS. The last thing we need is more militarisation, when other needs are far greater, such as the challenges of climate change, the hospital system, and homelessness to name a few.
Judith Morrison, Nunawading

We have choices
Our government’s spending decisions should reflect the nation’s priorities. Sadly, it seems our priorities include $200 billion on nuclear-powered subs; tax cuts for the wealthy ($250 billion over 10 years in stage 3 tax cuts); and support for fossil fuel companies ($12 billion per annum in subsidies, plus massive untaxed windfall profits for fossil fuel companies).

Whereas our priorities do not include raising JobSeeker to above the poverty line; universal basic dental care; support for mental health (with cutbacks to the number of Medicare-funded psychologist sessions per annum); or real action to meet the nation’s estimated social housing shortfall of 500,000 dwellings.

Our wealthy country can afford anything we choose to prioritise. Either we need new priorities, or we need a new government.
Richard Barnes, Canterbury

Genuine leadership
I wonder how many people agree with me that Anthony Albanese was a wonderful choice to lead this country. His decisions say time and time again that the people come first. He demonstrates long-term vision and never seems to put a bandage on a problem. At last, a leader who does not focus only on the wealthy, but sees all Australians worthy and equal, including the First Peoples of our nation.
Sharon Hendon, Glen Iris

Sensible response
It’s so heartwarming coming into Christmas to read “Prize land earmarked for the greater good”, 18/12). Rather than selling out to the highest bidder, the Surf Coast Shire decided to develop a 6669-square-metre site at Aireys Inlet for social and affordable housing. Not only is it a desperately needed response to the severe shortage of accessible homes and increasing homelessness but also it serves a broader community purpose as many people, especially key workers, are leaving the area because of expensive housing and escalating rentals.
Kevin Burke, Sandringham

Problem ignored
Re: “Public housing stands empty as list grows” (19/12), as a long-term resident of Carlton it has been clear that empty apartments and badly maintained housing abound. Over a three-year period I wrote letters constantly to the relevant authorities, pointing out this problem, their standard reply was “it is not our policy to allow this”. In frustration after three years I packaged my letters up and sent them to the head of the authority and to the then relevant government minister, without even an acknowledgement of receipt from either parties.
Peter Roche, Carlton

Hyper-masculine
Jacqueline Maley reckons that men suffer by shutting off what is feminine (“‘Male decline’ is real and it’s a problem for women as well”, Sunday Age, 18/12). Remember how Malcolm Fraser got a quivering lip on television as it became clear he had lost the 1983 election? Or how Bob Hawke cried at a press conference when his daughter’s drug addiction came up? Turning to elite sport, Kim Hughes cried in resigning the captaincy of the Australian cricket team. Michael Clarke broke down in speaking at the funeral of Phillip Hughes. Steve Smith cried in apologising for ball tampering. When exactly was this age of hyper-masculine Australian men?
Alun Breward, Malvern East

Failing boys
Jacqueline Maley writes alarmingly about what she calls the male decline. Educational research over many years has told us that the best-performing students are girls in single-sex schools, then girls in co-ed, followed by boys in single-sex schools then a long way back boys in co-ed. While co-ed schools might market themselves as the “natural way”, boys generally tend to miss out.
We need to be smarter about the way we teach boys rather than hoping they catch up to girls eventually. Forty-five years’ teaching in single-sex boys’ schools and co-ed has taught me that boys learn very differently and need to be taught differently to girls. One size never fits all and never did. Boys’ under-achievement is holding up the nation’s development into the 21st century. The whole notion of being male needs broadening beyond traditional stereotypes which have failed boys dismally.
Nick Toovey, Beaumaris

Vile treatment
Is it now time to acknowledge that media denigration of Meghan Markle has gone too far? Jeremy Clarkson’s vile diatribe in his column, saying his “cellular” hatred for Markle is worse than how he feels about a serial killer, is abhorrent (“Does Jeremy Clarkson’s attack on Meghan prove the couple are right about the media?” 19/12). I’m undecided about whose “truth” to believe in the royal family hostilities or whether to care, but Meghan and Harry have cause to be afraid of such dog whistling. And Clarkson was invited to a Christmas lunch with Queen Consort Camilla. Nice!
Glenda Johnston, Queenscliff

Independent thinking
Fiona Patten’s achievements during her eight years in parliament highlights the effectiveness of an independent. Equally her achievements highlight the utter ineffectiveness of many a government minister. Government ministers, primarily factional hacks and untalented party loyalists, are more than happy to sit back, relying on consultants and public opinion to react rather than be pro-active.
The election of a number of non-major party members in the new parliament may see the government pushed to work a bit harder.
Graham Stevens, Murrumbeena

Hope and grace
Thank you for giving Barney Zwartz the opportunity to really explain in such a meaningful way the concept of grace (“The Christmas gift Santa can’t keep from us”, 18/12). It clarified so much of God’s love which needs to resonate throughout today’s world and gave us hope especially when we see at the moment so much hatred and evil intent.
Glenise Michaelson, Montmorency

Opening our hearts
God’s grace to us often comes when we least expect it and often in the most simplest of ways. A smile, a look, and even more, a chance encounter. Barney Zwartz writes God’s grace is freely given and reflects an unconditional love. Grace opens our hearts and our eyes to the wonders of life around us and teaches us how we can be a grace to others. I write from a privileged position and in a sometimes lucky country. Let’s hope grace can also open us to those who are not so advantaged.
Julie Ottobre, Sorrento

Formulas fail
With all due respect to the clinical psychologist who wrote of the consequences of the foolishness of the cuts to subsidised counselling, (Letters, 18/12) I wonder how many sessions he believes would be necessary to address the complex needs of the cases he raises?

With a debilitating mental health condition, I have been highly motivated to make sessions with psychologists work but experienced little benefit. I am sure there are some excellent, effective psychologists but, to be blunt, the formulaic approaches I experienced indicated many practitioners are out of their depth and charging too much for their skills and expertise.

While there are many reasons for mental ill health, there is no doubt in my mind that issues of inequity and severe societal pressures create or exacerbate many problems. We need to look holistically at the health of the national psyche, carefully target the resources available and be ever ready to apply the blowtorch of evidence of outcomes. What about alleviating poverty, more domestic violence refuges or humble neighbourhood centres?

To think that chronic mental health conditions or the trauma of horrific personal circumstances can be overcome with some predetermined number of sessions of talking therapy is a huge oversimplification.
Name withheld on request

Chips away
Not only should the hospitality industry consider portion size of chips (Letters, 19/12) it should also consider if chips are necessary at all. Chips may just be a habit. Some years ago in Ireland, the only restaurant open on a Sunday night was Chinese. When I ordered some typically Chinese food, I was perplexed by the waitress’ question. Eventually I worked out I was being asked if I wanted chips or rice with the meal. Apparently most people ordered chips. Just a habit. In Australia we can get by without chips in a Chinese restaurant, so we can probably get by without chips in many meals.
Louise Kloot, Doncaster

Fixing the real problem
Ross Gittins’ recent article criticising the RBA is spot on (“Hey RBA boomer, things have changed a lot since the 1970s”, 19/12). Governor Lowe is operating out of the failed belief that we need to keep a section of the population poor or unemployed to keep inflation low. As Gittins rightly points out, we’re not in a wages-induced inflation spiral. Our inflation is primarily due to the high price of energy which the Albanese government is rightfully tackling. However Gittins neglects to mention the impact that over a decade of mass immigration has had on wages, bargaining power and by extension inflation.
Kieran Simpson, Blackburn North

And another thing

Soccer riots
Shame on you A-League spectators. You have justified the decision for Sydney to host grand finals.
Shirley Purves, Gisborne

Australian soccer’s administration … talk about an “own goal”.
Ian Maddison, Parkdale

Credit:Illustration: Matt Golding

Foreign affairs
The new arms race is on in earnest, with Japan joining us to ramp up “counterstrike” capability. Let’s compete with China on climate, trade and aid instead.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

The League of Nations collapsed in the 1930s when it failed to halt the invasion of Manchuria by Japan and Abyssinia by Italy. Now, as Russia pounds Ukraine to dust, the United Nations is proving to be just as useless.
Reg Murray, Glen Iris

Street trees
Removing foliage around the letter box, fair enough, complete removal of street trees is a bit of a ham-fisted approach by some councils (“Trees get the axe to make way for postie vehicles”, 19/12).
Greg Bardin, Altona North

Councils are removing trees to accommodate environmentally friendly electric vehicles? I remember when posties used to ride bikes, now that was environmentally friendly.
John Murray, Hawthorn East

Furthermore
Your editorial says all unhappy families are pretty much the same but there is a different element in Harry and Meghan’s story – racism.
Barbara Trauer, Northcote

Re: “Pope Francis to return marbles” (19/12), will the Pope resign now he’s losing his marbles?
Robin Jensen, Castlemaine

How I long for a Test match of five full days’ play with the result decided in the last session in fading light on a disintegrating pitch. What a Xmas present that would be.
Rob Willis, Wheelers Hill

“Mind-boggling: patients wait for years to see specialists” (19/12). Like justice, healthcare delayed is healthcare denied.
Lawrie Bradly, Surrey Hills

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