An international football friendly game between Australia and Greece has been marred by the lighting of flares by fans, police said on Wednesday.
A handful of fans attending the game on Monday night, at Melbourne’s Etihad Stadium, set off a number of flares in Melbourne’s Central Business District (CBD) before the game with another one being set off within the stadium.
John Eren, Victoria’s Sport Minister, said he was disgusted by the actions of the culprits.
“This is really disappointing to see that a handful of people could ruin it for the rest of the community who just want to go out there and enjoy themselves at a wonderful game,” he said on Wednesday.
“Flares are always dangerous when used in an inappropriate was as they were last night.
“I think these people need to be bought to justice and the police are obviously looking to identify these culprits and bring them to justice.”
Football Federation of Australia (FFA) spokesman Kyle Patterson made it abundantly clear that those responsible will face lengthy bans from all football events in Australia.
“We’ll find them, we’ll identify them and they’ll get a five-year ban,” Patterson said on Wednesday.
“There is a culture in some parts of the world, in southern Europe and in South America that flares are part of the show.
“Unfortunately that culture which we do not in any way approve has found its way here into what I’ll call mindless individuals.
“They do it and don’t think of the consequences.”
Five fans were ejected from the ground for behavioural offences but no arrests were made on the night.
The game was the first time in 10 years that Melbourne, which has the largest Greek population in the world outside of Greece, played host to the Greek national team.
A total of 33,622 fans were in attendance at Etihad Stadium to see Greece triumph over the Socceroos 2-1.