Gallop stands firm on banned A-League fans
David Gallop says fans at A-League matches give him goosebumps, but those who behave inappropriately and endanger others have no place in the game.
Returning to Australia from Asian Football Confederation business in India, Gallop said he had been watching and listening to the events of last weekend, which included fan walkouts at A-League games in Melbourne and Gosford in protest at the perceived lack of a satisfactory appeals process, and inaction over the publication of names and photos of 198 banned fans.
He acknowledged the leaking and publication of the confidential document that included the names of the banned fans was wrong and was being investigated, and also admitted the banning process may need some fine-tuning.
But the Football Federation Australia boss stopped short of saying the process would be overhauled.
"The banning process we've had in place for about seven years now needs some fine-tuning," Gallop said.
"The communication of the ability to raise proof that you didn't engage in the behaviour which led to your ban is something that we will fine tune.
"We love the atmosphere at A-League games - it literally gives people goosebumps, me included. Let's celebrate that wonderful atmosphere because it's unique in Australian sport.
"But at the heart of this is our determination to have a safe environment for fans."
Gallop said the fine-tuning could include options such as including ex-players on the panel that looks at the cases, and also looking at volunteer community service ideas for people who want to return to the A-League from their ban early.
But he also said it was important to note the 198 people who have been banned - some for life - had behaved in a way that was unacceptable and, in some cases, dangerous.
"The 198 people who've been banned from matches - these are serious offences," he said. "Many assaults, many ignitions of flares, the throwing of projectiles at coaches and players, and invading pitches - these are not trivial matters.
"Flares in particular are dangerous. You are putting the people around you at risk of injury if you let off flares - that's why it's a mandatory five-year ban."
Gallop's hardline stance was unlikely to change the view of those fans who believe they are being treated unfairly, with supporter groups saying any appeal process should have the burden of proof of guilt with the FFA, rather than fans having to prove their innocence.
Gallop also said ongoing meetings would be held with police to enforce bans and ensure a safe environment at A-League matches.