Wanderers fans banned over lewd banner
WESTERN Sydney Wanderers have launched a major crackdown on the members of the Red and Black Bloc who flaunted an offensive banner at last Saturday's A-League derby, banning 14 members - including some of the leadership - and warning the rest that one more transgression will see the whole RBB shut down.
In the wake of widespread anger at the banner, depicting Sydney coach Graham Arnold engaged in oral sex, the Wanderers announced a series of banning orders after identifying individuals who were involved in smuggling the banner into ANZ Stadium and then holding it aloft during the game.
The club's 18-month ban on members from the Red and Black Bloc comes the same day Arnold fronted media to reveal how the banner had affected his family.
It was also made clear that anything that might bring the club into disrepute again - including offensive posts on social media from apparently "official" RBB accounts - would result in the active end at Wanderers games being shut down indefinitely.
It follows several obscene posts by the RBB showing its pride in the banner and abusing those criticising it, and is likely to spark a furious response from the RBB's leadership.
But Western Sydney made clear that "we must remove all those who see themselves as bigger than the club they support", and had lost patience with the supporters damaging its name.
"Following a thorough review of the incident on Saturday night including review of CCTV footage at the venue and examination of those involved and how they both concealed the banner's entry into the venue, its construction within the bay and display during the match we have acted to remove them from our club," said Wanderers CEO John Tsatsimas.
"This incident involved key leaders of the RBB who have shown no remorse for their actions of bringing our club and the game of football into disrepute and have continued to flaunt their disdain for the club and our diverse and inclusive membership family further on social media.
"As a club we have had enough and have put the entire group on notice. While the vast majority of the RBB are exceptional in their support and actions for this club we must remove all those who see themselves as bigger than the club they support."
The move came as one of the club's major partners, Western Sydney University, said it would remove its signage from the remaining A-League games this season, and would review its partnership with the Wanderers at the end of the season.
Major sponsor NRMA Insurance has already expressed its dismay over the RBB's actions, as pressure has grown for them to be disciplined over several years' worth of misbehaviour.
Western Sydney University even went as far as releasing a statement of its own, with vice-chancellor Professor Barney Glover saying the actions of RBB members - and response from the club - were unacceptable.
"Western Sydney University embraces diversity and promotes a culture of inclusiveness. In doing so, we seek to develop relationships within Western Sydney and across the globe with partners who share these values," Professor Glover said.
"If the Wanderers share these values, they must act swiftly and firmly to deal with the perpetrators and ensure that their supporters reflect the values of the club. Equally, we expect Football Federation Australia to ensure."