DISGRACEFUL scenes of violence and intimidation by fans of the Western Sydney Wanderers football club have forced Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione to bolster officer numbers at future matches.
Frightening video of fans terrorising families before Saturday night’s A-League derby at Parramatta came to light yesterday. More than 100 Wanderers supporters were filmed surrounding an outside section of a restaurant, yelling, swearing and spitting. A plate and a glass were thrown, hitting a Sydney FC fan who was dining with friends.
Innocent patrons, including children and the elderly, were caught up in the violence as they dined at a steak restaurant near the Riverside Theatre.
The behaviour of the group was as cowardly as it was distasteful, with their numbers ensuring no one at the restaurant could take a stand against their vile actions.
One of the diners who filmed the incident, an ex-policeman who wished to be identified only as “Paul”, described the melee outside the Ribs and Rumps restaurant as “pretty frightening”.
“The fans were aggressive, spitting and hurling abuse. I had my two daughters, nine and 11, and other family there and I was worried it could explode,” Paul said.
“Luckily the Sydney fan sat down and didn’t retaliate or else I think there was real possibility of a riot.”
Police are reviewing CCTV footage from the restaurant to identify victims and those involved in any criminal acts.
The violence was not limited to outside the stadium, with more troublemakers – including pitch invaders – arrested inside during the match.
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop last night described the incident as the “antics of a few morons”, despite the images clearly showing there were vastly more than a few responsible for the disturbing scenes.
“We will be vigilant and methodical in weeding out anti-social elements. When we say ‘zero-tolerance’ we mean it,” Mr Gallop said.
“I know the vast majority of fans are just as disgusted as I am about the rogue elements.”
Mr Scipione received a full briefing yesterday from the local area commander Superintendent Robert Redfern and viewed the video taken by Paul, which was given to 2GB’s Ray Hadley.
Supt Redfern said more than 160 police were deployed for the match and there would be more at future games.
“This is unacceptable and if it takes 100 police more we will be there,” he said.
Supt Redfern said he would be passing on information about Wanderers fans to Newcastle police ahead of the club’s clash against the Jets on Friday. About 8000 Wanderers fans are expected to travel north to the match.
“We will be passing on intelligence and who to watch out for,” Supt Redfern said.
“Had we not had the resources of 160 police on hand the situation could have been a lot worse.”