Sydney United sanctioned by Football Australia for ‘deeply offensive’ fan behaviour

Sydney United 58 FC have been fined $15,000 and face possible bans from future competitions after a Football Australia investigation found fans behaved in a “deeply offensive” manner at last month’s Australia Cup final.

The first second-tier outfit to reach the competition’s decider, United faced immediate public scrutiny after some fans chanted songs with fascist links, booed during the Welcome To Country and performed Nazi salutes during the 2-0 loss to A-League Men side Macarthur FC.

Eight fans of United, formerly known as Sydney Croatia, were thrown out of CommBank Stadium on 1 October, with FA later banning two for life for performing fascist salutes.

At the time, the NPL NSW club distanced itself from and condemned the fans involved, but was sanctioned on Friday afternoon.

Football Australia will use the fine imposed to “further invest in education, training and materials related to anti-discrimination and cultural competency for the Australian Football community”, according to a statement.

United will face more fines, points deductions and a ban from the Australia Cup from 2023 to 2025 unless they complete five “specific requirements” over the next three years.

Set by Football Australia, these requirements include committing to anti-racism training programs and ongoing volunteer work with the First Nations and Jewish communities as well as the implementation of intra-club cultural initiatives and supporter behaviour codes.

“The actions of certain groups of people were disrespectful and deeply offensive to the Indigenous Australian and Jewish communities,” FA CEO James Johnson said. “As a result, we have acted decisively in a manner which reflects our desire to strike this behaviour out of Australian football.

“The sanctions imposed on Sydney United 58 FC reflect the seriousness with which we have viewed this situation and we believe sends a clear message that this type of behaviour, will not be tolerated.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark called the fans’ behaviour “some of the ugliest scenes we have seen by spectators at a football game in our country”.

“We hope the sanctions issued to Sydney United will act as a warning to other clubs that racist behaviour of any kind will not be tolerated,” he said.