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Phuket Sport: Fan violence threatens Thai football

Phuket Sport: Fan violence threatens Thai football

COMMENT: The brawl in Ratchaburi this weekend, between fans angered by the referee’s decision to award a late penalty that yielded an equaliser, is the latest incident of violence afflicting Thai football games.

By Kazira Hans

Thursday 4 April 2013, 11:52AM

Fans brawling on the terraces at the stadium in Ratchaburi. <i>Photo: BKK Football Blog</i>

Fans brawling on the terraces at the stadium in Ratchaburi. Photo: BKK Football Blog

A few weeks ago in Rayong, a referee’s questionable decision earned him a punch in the face from angry fans – which prompted a discussion about “human error” among referees.

But the real issue about football violence in Thailand is this – what are the necessary security measures in our football stadiums, and how does the home clubs execute such measures?

It was reported this weekend that Ratchaburi FC allowed their upset fans to exit the stadium past the stands where Chonburi fans were seated, without supervision from security guards or policemen.

A confrontation there was almost unavoidable – especially when some hot blooded fans were fueled by alcohol, upset by the result, and being provoked by rival fans.

The TPL have ruled that, since the Ratchaburi fans were provoked by the Chonburi fans, they will not be banned from future home games.

But their behavior has tainted Thai football’s attempts to provide good, clean matches that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, including families and children.

Can they trust that if they go to a football game they will get home safe?

Phuket had a taste of this problem just last year in Krabi, when Phuket fans were surrounded by rival Krabi fans.

In the end it took a squad of policemen to escort them out of town and on their way home to Phuket.

Security personnel at most Thai football games are pretty much like hired guns: they are either civilian volunteers or policemen who would like to return home to their family or back to their duty soon as the game ends.

Will every home club have enough manpower to manage crowd control should anything happen?

This latest incident gives reason for many teams, Phuket included, to examine their existing security measures.

Phuket fans are familiar with walking past visiting fans out of the stadium after the game, but it would take only a small number of fans with too much alcohol in their system and a little provocation to start an incident.

Are Thai football teams ready to seriously consider this problem and implement security measures commiserate with the professional football teams they want to be?

Or will they just shrug it off, and we will have to wait until a football brawl causes bloodshed or a fatality before taking the issue seriously?

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