Violence, hooliganism and unruly behavior by fans at sports events are nothing new and have largely been overlooked by the authorities but that might have to change now.
The global sports fraternity is in shock and disgusted after the video of a drunk male punching a mother in front of her children at an AFL game in Australia went viral.
The incident happened during Friday night's showdown between Fremantle and Hawthorn at Perth’s Subiaco Oval. The woman in question was watching the game with her family when a Fremantle supporter, incensed by his team's season-ending defeat, started spewing profanities with a view of getting into fights with rivals fans.
The victim asked the angry fan to watch his language since she was with her young family. Her exact words were: "Just take a seat, watch the rest of the game. You are really scaring my kids."
Not content with telling the woman that he didn’t “give a fu** about her children,” the man took a swing at her, catching her throat and sending her down while her stepdaughter watched in horror.
Fortunately, the entire incident was caught on tape and the man, who has since been identified as a 24-year-old from Joondanna, was immediately apprehended and later charged with common assault, police obstruction and disorderly behavior in public.
The victim, who says her children are deeply horrified by the assault and will never attend an AFL game ever again, believes alcohol at sporting events needs to be better managed.
The truth is that organizers are perfectly aware how alcohol brings out the worst of emotionally charged fans at ball games, but they ignore it as its sales are a major part of their matchday income. Some even fear that putting a cap on drinking could kill the buzz that the crowd generates, which may indirectly affect the event's overall success.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan also seems to be of the same mind. He expressed great anger at the incident but gave away no signs of any potential legislation against alcohol consumption.
“It was something that cannot be condoned in any way,” AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said. “Our supporters need to feel safe, children need to feel safe and women need to feel safe at the football.”
But this wasn't a one-off incident. Crowd unrest is extremely common wherever sports and drinking are mixed. In fact, at the Fremantle/Hawthorn game, members of the crowd tried to confront or pick a fight with players in two separate incidents.
Let's hope that the AFL, the NFL, the NBA and all those big leagues get serious about tacking this issue before something even more unfortunate happens.