Canberra Olympic vs Western Sydney Wanderers
Wanderers supporters light flares into the crowd. Photo: Melissa Adams
Football Federation Australia and the Western Sydney Wanderers are investigating the series of flares that were lit during Wednesday night's pre-season match in Canberra, threatening to track down culprits and issue five-year bans.
Capital Football has also said it will not tolerate antisocial behaviour as it prepares to host another A-League team, the Newcastle Jets - led by former English star Emile Heskey - at McKellar Park on Wednesday night.
The Wanderers are desperate to stamp out flares, issuing 20 of the mandatory five-year bans during their inaugural season.
Club officials identified potential troublemakers among the travelling fans before Wednesday night's match and alerted security to watch for flares.
Four flares were lit during the event, organised by Canberra Olympic, but security confiscated more.
The Wanderers have started an investigation, including looking at photographs officials took of the incidents.
About 200 members of the Wanderers' supporter group - known as the Red and Black Bloc - travelled from Sydney for the match. For the most part, Wanderers fans created a wonderful atmosphere of singing, dancing and drumming among a crowd of about 2000.
But the club said it was determined to eliminate the ''boofheads''.
''Every effort will be made to track down the source and take the appropriate action,'' a Wanderers spokesman said.
''We're sort of aware of a few of the guys who were there last night, and they're already trouble people in the RBB - people we've singled out.
''It's antisocial behaviour and it's not tolerated … if you get caught, you're out.''
The FFA issues mandatory five-year bans to people found to have lit flares, and governments have also stepped in. Victoria has introduced fines of more than $1000 for lighting flares and $700 for possession.
''We don't want to discourage individuals expressing themselves in any way, but if they're doing it in a criminal way that's endangering other people, then you've got to make sure you come down strongly on them,'' an FFA spokesman said.
Although organised by Canberra Olympic, Wednesday's match was sanctioned by Capital Football and chief executive Heather Reid said she would contact the Wanderers for details. The AIS hosted the match and the Australian Sports Commission is also seeking a response from the FFA, the Wanderers and Canberra Olympic.
Reid tweeted after Wednesday's match: ''What a pity some idiot spoilt a great evening for the fans and teams.''
Reid said in Canberra, clubs also faced fines if fans were involved in lighting flares, even if individuals could not be identified. Capital Football expects a crowd of about 2000 for the Newcastle Jets game.
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