As football fans gear up for the first match of the Hyundai A-League season this weekend, police are preparing to kick-start their operational response.
Around 50, 000 people are expected to pack into Etihad Stadium for the season opener.
Police in Melbourne have been working closely with Hyundai A-League clubs, venue officials and the FFA during the soccer off-season to improve the experience for spectators.
Commander Rick Nugent said soccer was a family-orientated game and police were hoping to see more families enjoying the sport this season.
“We’re determined to make the 2013/14 season the most enjoyable yet – for players, for fans and for police,” he said.
“We want to see more families at games enjoying themselves.
“During the off-season, police have made significant inroads into improving the police response to games by developing strong partnerships with Football Federation Australia, venue officials and Melbourne-based Hyundai A-League clubs.
“We’re determined not to see a repeat of the anti-social behaviour shown by a small number of trouble-makers at a number of Hyundai A-League matches last season.
“Police have had enough, players have had enough and fans have had enough.”
Members from the specialised Public Order Response Team (PORT) will be regulars at matches, supporting operational patrols and targeting public order and alcohol-related violence.
The police response to matches will also be supported by improved CCTV technology around the grounds and an anti-violence SMS reporting system, which the venues have implemented.
Melbourne-based A-league clubs have thrown their support behind police by joining Go4Zero, an anti-violence campaign run in partnership between the State Government of Victoria and Victoria Police. Go4Zero aims to stamp out violence of any form in the community.
Anyone found to be drunk, disorderly or behaving in an anti-social manner faces an on-the-spot fine of $722. Those doing the wrong thing may also be ejected from the ground.