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Economics References Committee
03/11/2015
Personal choice and community impacts

ADAMSON, Mr Matthew, Member, Red and Black Bloc

BUSHARA, Mr Fadi William, Representative, Red and Black Bloc

CHAIR: I now welcome Mr Fadi Bushara and Mr Matthew Adamson from the Red and Black Bloc, and thank you for appearing before the committee today. Would you like to make an opening statement?

Mr Adamson : Yes, we would. First and foremost, we completely appreciate that the police have a hard task. I do not think that anybody would question that, and it would be quite silly to do so. In earlier presentations and submission to this hearing we heard a lot about danger and safety. There were a few incidents referenced from here and abroad. I believe that they were represented without proper context in terms of the span of years as well as the number of football matches that occurred in that time frame. There is a context to everything.

Senator Leyonhjelm, you mentioned Professor Stephen Reicher. As it would happen, in my own notes I was going to reference one of his students, Professor Clifford Stott. I would like to read from a release from Western Sydney University regarding the recent visit, in May of this year, of Dr Clifford Stott. Funnily enough, he was just around the corner at the University of Western Sydney campus. He delivered a talk called 'Mad mobs and football hooligans—debunking the myths'. As with Professor Reicher, Dr Stott is also a proponent of engagement, and the RBB are as well. We in no way, shape or form condone any sort of criminal behaviour, and we have always been very open about this fact whether through social media or through interviews to media, some of which I have given. I would like to read a quote from Dr Stott that I believe is important to these proceedings:

If we want to solve the problem of 'football hooligans', we need to understand the nature of the problem accurately, to see the crowd psychology not as madness, but a meaningful response to circumstances.

It's often a matter of heavy-handed crowd management practices that lead to circumstances where violence develops.

I would like to table that.

CHAIR: Yes, thank you.

Mr Adamson : To give you a bit of background as to why I am familiar with Dr Stott, I lived in Europe for 4½ years and I was in a senior management position with a crowd management security company. We tendered to a lot of large football clubs in the UK predominantly, including the likes of Manchester City and Leeds United, who back in the dark days were regarded as one of the worst clubs around. I have had the benefit of seeing, firsthand, how an approach of engagement as opposed to authoritarianism, as I perceive it, influences a crowd and a crowd's behaviour.

I would like to reference a couple of other points that were mentioned earlier in the proceedings. We talked about risk assessment and I believe that is absolutely paramount. I am not so sure that we have necessarily learnt the lessons of the mistakes that those who have gone before us have brought. My mother was a quirky lady but she always taught me that if I ever had the opportunity to learn from someone else's mistakes I should do it. I believe that there is an opportunity here for the New South Wales Police and local area commands to do the exact same thing. I know that Dr Stott presented here last year. He is a regular visitor to Australia and, like Dr Reicher, he is extremely experienced on a global scale and has actually driven positive results.

I would like to add at this point that my own personal involvement with the RBB was somewhat diminished in the second and third seasons due to illness on my part. I was very prominent in RBB activities in season 1. Now that I am healthy again I am trying to get back on the terrace and do my share of the singing.

I would also like to reference a point that the assistant commissioner made in reference to the Cronulla riots, and Senator Dastyari questioned this in later submissions. I believe there is a relationship between the Cronulla riots and between the RBB, and that relationship is one of complete antithesis. The Cronulla riots were all about racists clashing and opposing one another. What the Red and Black Bloc have done in Western Sydney is about bringing races together, regardless of creed, religion, beliefs or political alignments. We have thousands of people who come together once every weekend to sing and to watch football. That is what we are here for and that is what we will always be here for.

CHAIR: Mr Bushara, do you have statement?

Mr Bushara : Yes. I will just touch on a couple of points that Matt has made. Western Sydney does unite the people of the West and that is nowhere more evident than in the RBB—as he said, in terms of different races, religions and even cultures. People are surprised—they say, 'How can you have people of Croatian background and people of Serbian background together?' That all goes out the window because nobody thinks like that; people are just there to support the team. But it becomes very difficult for us to do so when we feel there is always someone watching over our back or if people feel intimidated.

It is just natural to feel that way, and this is happening regularly—more and more. It is facilitated by police. There is just a stigma around the RBB. When people hear the word 'RBB' they think, 'Here we go—troublemakers, vigilante group,' call it what you will. It is an unfair tag that has been put on us. Straightaway there is this perception, and this is what the police follow. It is funny that they do not do their own investigation or that they do not look specifically at what the problem is. As you indicated, do they target specific troublemakers? They do not. They have a blanket approach; they say, 'RBB is here, off we go.'

Usually it is, 'Oh, we need 10 police officers at this game,' but for RBB, 'We need 45.' So it is always exaggerated. The media always jumps on this as well. They like to sensationalise things, as they probably will be here today—they are going to have fun. It is always the case. We do what we do. We support the team: we are active and we are vibrant—flags, colours, chanting and marching. This is the attraction for a lot of people to this club. It is a club that is three years old and it has the second-highest membership in the league. That is not only down to the fact that the club has been successful in its first year, because in the last season the club almost finished last and this season the club is not having a great start. But you still have close to 18,000 members, and part of the attraction is the active supporters and supporters throughout the stadium who also become active and bring something to the table. This is the attraction, not just to people who follow football but to people outside football.

I know many people who have no affiliation with football and who have never followed the sport—they have followed other codes, whether those be rugby, AFL or what not—who have attended one game and now they come. They come to watch the RBB—they come to watch the active fans. They come to watch the fans celebrate the game, more so than watching the actual game itself.

It is a shame really that we have people in positions of power, like the New South Wales police, who try to stifle this and then hide behind the cover of law or legislation which they are clearly not abiding by. They say, 'It's conditions of entry to the stadium.' These are all recommended by the police. Police in the stadium work hand in hand with the stadium. The recommendations come from the police, they are just delivered by the stadium and then brought back by the police, 'Oh, this is what they've said.'

There is nothing more to add. We are a community based group. We are a not-for-profit organisation. We do our fair share of fundraising—we do whatever we can. We actually have buses going up to our Newcastle game next week, at the Hunter Stadium. We have put on buses for the fans—not just for the RBB, the active fans, but for any Western Sydney fans. So if you guys are Wanderers fans you are more than welcome on the bus. There will be some response to that, I think!

That is just what we do. It is a community thing and it brings everyone together. That is the attraction of it—it is as simple as that.

CHAIR: Thank you.

Senator DASTYARI: I have just a couple of questions, and I will be fairly brief here. Firstly, thank you so much for being here today. I just want to note that you are both volunteers. You have both come in a volunteer capacity—is that correct? This is your hobby and this is what you spend your social and free time doing? You are not paid by the RBB; it is a fully voluntary organisation, as I understand it. Do you just want to touch on that?

Mr Adamson : Yes, that is absolutely correct. We give our time out of love, not for any thought of reward, thanks or monetary gain.

Mr Bushara : That is for everyone involved in the RBB. Everyone gives up their own time.

Senator DASTYARI: The deputy police commissioner noted some of the content within the comment section of your fan page on Facebook. Is that anything we should really be alarmed about?

Mr Adamson : I do not think so. I believe that social media is a very grey sphere. Anybody is entitled to make any comment—any claim that they like. There is not a great deal of moderation without going through an actual process that I am sure Steve Zuckerberg profits from somehow!

In terms of social media: anybody can create a fake account. Someone could portray themselves as me or Fadi, or one of you gentlemen. So I do not believe it is particularly alarming. I believe that the real substance as to what decisions or opinions should be made rests on each action and what is seen.

Senator DASTYARI: We will just be clear: you do not in any way, shape or form support or condone violence?

Mr Adamson : No.

Senator DASTYARI: You do not support antisocial behaviour at football games?

Mr Adamson : Not at all. Again, I would just like to reiterate that we do not—and we agreed this unanimously as a group when the RBB was forming back in 2012—in any way, shape or form condone illegal or antisocial behaviour. If there is evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone has committed an offence, then so be it. We are all for the justice system to execute itself as it should.

Senator DASTYARI: How does it make you feel, Mr Adamson, as a fan—and a passionate fan—to have this kind of label in the sense of this broad brush being applied? How does it make you feel—going to games and seeing that police presence, and being told that all this has to happen because of the RBB? As fans, what does that do to you in your experience—and in the RBB's fan experience?

Mr Adamson : As a fan, it saddens me. I do not think that anybody likes to be labelled based on the actions of people who they may never have met before. I think we can all agree that we all want to be judged on our merits as human beings, and that is all that we have been asking for right throughout this process.

As someone with experience in the realm of crime management, I find it disappointing. Again, it comes back to the lessons that have been learnt—particularly in Europe. We have these fantastic subject matter experts who have achieved great results in places far more volatile in terms of their football cultures than Sydney, Australia. But we are not listening to them. That saddens and disappoints me.

Senator DASTYARI: Did you want to add anything to that, Mr Bushara?

Mr Bushara : I think it also brings a lot of people together, because it then creates that 'they are against us' mentality. As was mentioned before during this hearing, once these restrictions came out and people realised what the police were trying to do it brought people together—not only the active supporters but supporters throughout the stadium. You touched on social media, and you can see that the support there has been overwhelming in opposing these restrictions.

We had a bit of success with that because, at the end of the day, the public pressure was too great for the police to push ahead with it. They literally fell on their sword at the end of the day. They tried to push for things that were very unreasonable and people saw straight through that.

Senator DASTYARI: Mr Bushara and Mr Adamson, you were here earlier, obviously, and heard the evidence from the deputy police commissioner. We raised an issue with the deputy police commissioner that he offered to pursue, and that was cutting out all the middlemen and the club—everything—to give you an opportunity to raise these concerns directly with him and, perhaps, even with the police commissioner. If that were something that was able to be facilitated, do you think the RBB would be prepared to participate in it?

Mr Bushara : I am extremely confident that is the case. Again, I can only speak on season 1—and I am sure that Fadi can fill the gaps in—but there were approaches made to the New South Wales police, or to Parramatta LAC, with that exact idea: to bring the singers in and actually to engage with one another to achieve a constructive outcome.

Senator DASTYARI: Did that happen?

Mr Adamson : Unfortunately, no.

Mr Bushara : I will just add to that. Deputy Commissioner Clifford said that there have been no meetings or anything like that. That is false. We did regularly meet at the time with a Parramatta LAC superintendent, Robert Redfern. We had a very good relationship with him.

Senator DASTYARI: Was it amicable? What was the relationship like? Was it friendly? Was it hostile?

Mr Bushara : No, it was very friendly. It was a very candid relationship. We met regularly—almost every second game day, or something along those lines. He was very personable and approachable. Some of those meetings were facilitated by Councillor Issa. But then Superintendent Redfern moved on. Superintendent Cox, at Parramatta LAC at the moment, is the person who came in and the relationship changed from there. I do not know if it is his lack of understanding of football—the crowds, the active supporter groups or the culture, so to speak—but things changed. We did not turn down any meeting that they had requested us to attend. We attended every meeting that they requested. Most of these were facilitated by the club, so there were club members present and they can confirm that.

We were always responsive to their requests, but some of their requests were too much or over the top. The compromises were not reciprocated. The compromises were always expected to come from us, not from them. We did so on a number of things. He mentioned the swearing in chants and whatnot. We were told we could not swear in chants while we were conducting the march. We adhered to that. We were told we could not throw receipt rolls because we might injure someone—mind you, it is a paper roll. We adhered to that. This is not to mention that people were arrested and got banned for doing such things. But we still adhered to that.

As was mentioned earlier, we have changed our home pub, where we congregate before games, twice since season 1. Both times we had to change the route for the march. The route was given to us by New South Wales police. We accepted that. We did not argue. All we asked for was to be given a section of the road, because of the number of people. But in terms of cooperation it is their way or the highway, at the end of the day. That is how it works, and it does not really help anyone in this instance, because people get fed up with it.

So this is the issue now. We have had a change in Parramatta LAC and there is miscommunication there. There is misinformation coming out. We have been told by Superintendent Cox that all these restrictions are coming from Mr Clifford, but that does not appear to be the case.

CHAIR: Why do you say that? What I heard this morning would suggest that it might have been.

Mr Bushara : I am sure they have spoken since, but that is not my understanding.

CHAIR: Obviously there was a substantial deterioration in the relationship with the change of local area command.

Mr Bushara : That is correct.

CHAIR: That is significant. I want to go back to a couple of things about RBB so I understand you guys a little. Last time I was at a football match, a soccer match, was in the UK. It was quite a long time ago. What you guys do bears no relationship to what goes on in the UK anyway, so I rather think that they have probably invented stuff that you guys are still only thinking about. But what is the story about your capo stand? What does that refer to? I do not quite understand that.

Mr Bushara : I will clarify that. The capo is usually the person who leads the terrace, so to speak, or the active supporter section, on game day. It is not that he is the leader of everything that is decided on or what is done, but on the game day he leads the chants that are done and gets everyone involved. This is the person we are talking about as the capo. The capo stand was provided by the club. This sits at the front of the bay, and it gives the capo an elevated platform to stand on so that he can see what is going on.

CHAIR: Does he have a loudhailer?

Mr Bushara : He does, but one of the restrictions was that they wanted him to sign a terms and conditions agreement prior to using that loudhailer as to what he cannot say.

CHAIR: Did you sign it?

Mr Bushara : We refused.

CHAIR: You declined, okay. For my information, does Pirtek Stadium have any terraces where you can only stand?

Mr Bushara : No.

CHAIR: It is all seats.

Mr Bushara : It has been spoken about with the new stadium. The idea has been thrown back and forth, but I do not think that is going ahead. That is my understanding; I could be wrong.

CHAIR: So 24 September is the date I am working on for when the restrictions became public at least. Were you surprised by them, or did you see them coming?

Mr Bushara : I will explain it a little bit, because I do not think Mr Clifford or anyone else clarified them. I realise you asked that question a few times, and no-one clarified it. I will explain it to you. This was a result of a meeting on 10 September between us, the club and police. Superintendent Cox was present as well as Mr Steve Yapp from Parramatta LAC. We were given a list of restrictions. We had met with the club previously, and they had said, 'These are the restrictions that police are proposing.' We disagreed with them. We were told that it would be good to have a meeting. This meeting occurred on 10 September with all three parties. We argued that these restrictions were counterproductive and asked why these were only coming in now—three seasons in—as opposed to from the start? There have been no issues with some of the things we were asking about. They refused. They did not have any specific reasons for it. They said, 'No, this is how it is.'

From there, they were awaiting our reply. They wanted us to go back to the main group and say, 'These are the restrictions', and then to come back to them and pretty much agree to it. This is what they expected from us. Almost two weeks later we disagreed with it. We came out with our statement on social media, where we clarified these points to the wider fan base. We felt it was our duty to inform people, to let them know that this was what had been requested, because the police were not going to do that. People were going to attend a game and get pulled up for doing the wrong thing when they had no prior knowledge of it. This is why it came out.

From there ensued the—I do not want to use a rude word, but you know what I am trying to imply here: it snowballed and became something bigger than it is. The media got onto it and we are now where we are today. Senator Dastyari spoke about it. I did not think we would get to this point, but this is actually a very big step for the RBB. We are a not-for-profit supporter group that does this as volunteers, so for us to get to this point is very big.

CHAIR: You are all volunteers, yes. The next issue I would like you to talk about is: could you describe to the committee how the police behave towards members of the RBB at games?

Mr Adamson : It would be unfair to those officers who are fantastic and engaging to tar all of the police with the same brush. And it would be hypocritical of us to do so seeing as we are asking not to have that done to us. But in some instances there is aggression. In particular, in terms of gestures: things like walking up and down the aisles with your hand on a gun or pepper spray; riot gear at a sporting event. I believe that is absolutely counterproductive and extremely intimidating to families and young people who we have in our area.

CHAIR: Are there any verbal altercations, or is it all just physical?

Mr Bushara : With police?

CHAIR: Yes, or the exchanges with police.

Mr Bushara : Sometimes there are. It depends on how police or that sort of person would approach any member. If it is the case that their tone is antagonistic or provocative, at the end of the day it is going to be your word against theirs. But they travel around in numbers, especially the riot police in overalls—or pyjamas, as we like to call them. They will travel around in groups of four or five. We have been told by police that they will not send in one or two officers into the bay, because they feel that it is too intimidating for them. Meanwhile, they are the ones walking around with guns, batons and pepper spray. But they need to send in four or five officers to apprehend one person or to speak to one person and, in that process, they will infringe on other people's rights. If they are taking someone out of the bay to speak to them at the back, behind the hill, nobody else is allowed to leave the bay at that time, even if it is someone that needs to go to the toilet or buy a drink, or small children, anyone. That bay becomes a lockdown zone. No-one is allowed to leave.

CHAIR: Is that so? How long does that last for?

Mr Bushara : It is up to their discretion.

CHAIR: That is effectively placing an entire group of people under arrest, isn't it?

Mr Bushara : And if you try to leave the bay, you are told that you will be escorted out.

CHAIR: You will be escorted out.

Mr Bushara : Correct.

CHAIR: From the match.

Mr Bushara : Correct.

CHAIR: That is their only sanction, because they could not do anything else, could they?

Mr Bushara : They can. This is another point. What happens after that is if you are escorted out from the venue, you are spoken to by police, your details are taken and, in a matter of weeks, you are issued with an FFA ban which prevents you from attending any FFA-sanctioned event. That means no attending any game across Australia that is related to football. In the same breath, you cannot participate in any grassroots football. I cannot go and sign up to my local club and play Sunday football if I have been banned by the FFA.

CHAIR: This is interesting. If you do not adhere to their corralling into an area while they want to speak to somebody, so you decide you want to go to the toilet or whatever, you will be escorted outside?

Mr Bushara : Correct.

CHAIR: And then you will subsequently be banned from attending any matches?

Mr Bushara : That is correct.

CHAIR: How is that enforced?

Mr Bushara : It was a bit of a mystery to us. It has taken us a while to discover how the process happens. Once you are arrested or spoken to by police, whatever the reason may be, your details are taken. You are asked for identification, which is provided, and your details are noted. Then there is a data exchange between New South Wales police and the FFA. Anyone that they think should not be there, they will pass on their details to FFA because under the law they cannot do anything. As you said, they have escorted you out—you have done nothing wrong—or they have said, 'Leave, go home.' But they will go a step further to try and ensure that they have a result one way or another, and they will pass that information onto the FFA. Any information that is passed on to the FFA results in an immediate ban.

CHAIR: How is that ban enforced?

Mr Bushara : That ban is enforced by police or security.

CHAIR: But that depends on them recognising you.

Mr Bushara : That is correct. What happens is you are served a banning notice, which I have a few examples of here. These are handed out by a contracted company, from what I understand. They go around to people's houses, knock on their doors and provide them with a banning notice. There are people as well who are 'under investigation' who have files on them by a private security firm name named HATAMOTO, which is hired by the FFA. They conduct detective work, so to speak, on specific persons. They will liaise with New South Wales police and will go back to the FFA and say, 'This person was this.' They will go to people's homes and people's work; in any aspect of your life, they will go up to you and say, 'Here you go, here is a ban.' One year, two years, five years, 10 years—there have been 20-year bans that have been issued.

CHAIR: Would you mind tabling one of those banning notices, or several of them if you have them?

Mr Bushara : Sure.

Senator DASTYARI: Before we table them, because they become public documents when they are tabled, would you like the committee to black out anyone—so if it identifies an individual.

Mr Bushara : Yes.

Senator DASTYARI: The committee will do that, so why don't we table a redacted version?

CHAIR: I think that a redacted version is a good idea.

Mr Bushara : Sorry, just to clarify, with these bans, the ban is issued by the FFA and enforced by police. So, to me, it seems like the police work for the FFA. I am not too sure how this works.

CHAIR: Either the FFA or the stadium—one or the other.

Mr Bushara : Funnily enough, the FFA believe that they do not fall under the rules of natural justice, and this is quoted here in no uncertain terms in an email from them in response to someone who had requested information as to any reasons why they had been banned. If you do not mind, I will read it out, 'Dear Mr,' and the name has been blacked out: 'Please be advised that Football Federation Australia (FFA) is not a government agency and, as such, the obligation to adhere to the rules of procedural fairness and natural justice does not apply to our organisation. For this reason, FFA will not consider any appeal.'

CHAIR: It is interesting that they think that the rules of natural justice only apply to government agencies. That is a novel concept!

Mr Bushara : The funny thing is that this goes hand in hand with police. So, when the police cannot get you on anything, this is where they send you.

Senator DASTYARI: You say 'funny thing' but it is not very funny, is it, for the people who are being served?

Mr Bushara : Absolutely not, because Assistant Commissioner Clifford implies that the 103 that he says have been banned are guilty, or have been charged or have had the charges against them proven. This is not the case. People do not have a right to appeal. There is no appeals process. There is an example that has been tabled: one person was attacked by other fans. He went to court, he fought the charge and he got off. It was self-defence—he had been ambushed—yet he still received the ban, which is upheld to this day.

CHAIR: That has raised a very important point here: the criticism that we have made of the police handling of this approach is that they assume that everybody is guilty until proven otherwise or that they are potential hooligans. We did not get down to any numbers with Assistant Commission Clifford, but he admitted that there were not 40,000 hooligans in a stadium. So the obvious method of dealing with that is to identify who are responsible for violence and property damage and who are a threat to others, and then deal with them and exclude them from games. When I asked him can he do that and does he do that, the answer was, 'Not really; with great difficulty.' Now what you are telling us is that people are being banned from games on spurious grounds and with no ability to have that ban reviewed. So we are kicking people out and we are preventing them from coming back in on questionable grounds, based on what you have just told us. How it is being enforced is questionable, and the people that you are referring to are being lumped in with the people who really are the perpetrators of antisocial behaviour. This is quite serious. It essentially means, as it currently stands, that there is not much opportunity to deal with individuals who are responsible for violence and property damage. Am I right there?

Mr Bushara : Yes, that is correct.

CHAIR: You agree with what I am saying there?

Mr Bushara : Yes.

CHAIR: Mr Adamson, you have had some experience with European crowd control?

Mr Adamson : That is correct; primarily, in the UK.

CHAIR: You are quite right: Dr Stott is a colleague of Professor Reicher. Dr Stott is also a co-author on a very seminal paper on knowledge based public order policing. So, based on your experience in the UK, what do you think would be a better approach to adopt here in Parramatta or in the Wanderers' case?

Mr Adamson : I believe in an approach of engagement. One thing that was successful in the UK was the idea of a police liaison whereby a police officer from within the area of that club—so someone from Merseyside, if they were Liverpool, for example—would actually travel with that team and be the point of contact between the supporter group and the local area command of the area they were visiting, to actually remove the visible police presence in favour of technology-driven, intelligence-driven operations.

CHAIR: Do you have any experience with plain clothes police in the crowd?

Mr Adamson : Not directly, but I am aware of their existence. In my experience, they are generally deployed—again, we were not primarily a soccer or football company—at all events. There will be an undercover presence there.

CHAIR: Did any of the police, in your experience, ever wear the local fan scarves or caps or anything like that?

Mr Adamson : Again, I did not have any direct contact with those operatives, so I cannot answer that question honestly.

CHAIR: Are any police members of the RBB, that you know of?

Mr Adamson : I am aware of at least one.

CHAIR: Is he a member because he is trying to understand you guys or because he is a fan of the game?

Mr Adamson : It is because he loves the game and is from Western Sydney.

CHAIR: I am going to ask you a similar sort of question to one I asked of a previous witness. If you were police commissioner for a day or two, with primary responsibility for determining the police response to crowd control at football matches—including Wanderers matches—what would you do?

Mr Adamson : Quite simply, I would engage those who have already learnt the lessons, such as Dr Stott and Professor Reicher. I would engage them and learn as much as possible from them, and take those lessons and apply them here.

Senator DASTYARI: The evidence you have given today is quite extraordinary, and I can only imagine that it must have been quite a frustrating experience to have gone through. I have to give credit to the club, because the club really seems to have spoken out about some of this. I note the statements from the CEO and chairman from over the past few months. To what extent do you feel that the voice of fans has been excluded from this debate?

Mr Bushara : It is a good question. It depends on who you are referring to and where it is being excluded from. If you are talking about an FFA perspective, then yes, it absolutely has. The FFA controls football in this country. There is no other body to which you can say, 'I'm unhappy with how I'm being treated here, and I can go and watch this code under another governing body.' That just does not happen. The FFA runs football in this country, from the highest level—the A-League—all the way down to the grass roots. As I pointed out in an example, you get banned across the board. People are frustrated with the FFA; not just our supporter group but other active supported groups across the league and from other clubs. Whether it be Melbourne, Sydney FC or any other supporter groups, they all have the same problems with the FFA. There is no dialogue and no chance for fans to say what they want to say. The A-League comes out with campaigns saying that people power the game and what not, but it is all propaganda to push fans and show people that they are a part of something. That is great, but people are a part of their community; they are not a part of the FFA and they are not a part of the A-League. Our voice does not get heard anywhere further than our club. It is as simple as that. The club CEOs, who we deal with regularly, will hear what we have to say. It does not go further than that, to answer your question.

Senator DASTYARI: Is this the first time either of you has done anything like this?

Mr Bushara : Yes.

Mr Adamson : Yes, that is correct.

Senator DASTYARI: I have to say, Senator Leyonhjelm, I think the evidence from the fan group here has been really extraordinary.

CHAIR: Soccer in Australia—I know you guys like to call it football—

Senator DASTYARI: It is called football. You had the crowd, and you just lost them!

CHAIR: The trouble is that I will get into trouble with the rugby guys who call it football—although their foot never touches the ball. Let's just go with it. It has always been characterised as an 'ethnic' game in Australia. The Serbians used to have their teams and the Croats used to have their teams, and they would have punch-ups on the weekend and all of that sort of stuff. Just to bring it down to basics, it has long been regarded as a 'wog' game—and I am allowed to say 'wog', given my name! To what extent do you think the reaction to the Wanderers fans and the RBB in particular has been a sort of antipathy to 'rowdy wogs'?

Mr Adamson : I believe it is definitely a factor, particularly considering that back in the old NSL clubs had an ethnic alignment, where we had four or five clubs from the west and inner west of Sydney. So, there could be a bit of a stigma attached there. I would like to think—and it is the whole reason we are here—that we want to be judged as individuals, not in relation to someone 20 years ago or a perception based on someone from tens of thousands of kilometres away.

Mr Bushara : Johnny Warren spoke about this in his book Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters. That is what people who played the game were referred to as. We can have a laugh about it, but in some aspects of media and the higher levels of government or policing or whatnot that is still the impression, unfortunately, even in this day and age.

CHAIR: I have to say, I could not disagree with you on that. There are no more questions, so thank you for appearing before us today. It is very much appreciated. And thank you to all the witnesses who appeared, and to Hansard and Broadcasting.

Committee adjourned at 11 : 56