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FFNC hits back at teen soccer thugs

ONE teenager has been banned from soccer for 10 years and another has been slapped with a two-year ban after a Football Far North Coast panel convened last Wednesday night in relation to the alleged assault of a 16-year-old boy at Nimbin.

The victim was playing for Pottsville in an under-16 mixed game against the Nimbin Headers on July 5 when he allegedly sustained injuries from a head-butt from a member of the crowd.

He was taken to Lismore Base Hospital, where he was cleared of any serious injuries.

The panel found that an under-16 Nimbin girl player pointed out the player she wanted to be assaulted to the crowd member, who then allegedly attacked the victim following the match.

The crowd member, who was not a registered player, was found guilty of spectator or crowd violence by the panel and was suspended from any soccer-related activity, including watching games, for 10 years.

The player, who was charged with provocation or incitement of hatred or violence, was suspended until December 31, 2011.

Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney said the chair of the panel, barrister Nick Harrison, advised that a ban of five years would have been imposed had the player been an adult.

The Nimbin player did not attend the panel hearing, but did provide a written statement, and Mr Mackney said she admitted she had over-reacted and was remorseful.

The incident is still being investigated by police after the victim made a complaint.

Mr Mackney said he had informed both clubs and the father of the victim of the penalty.

“The hard work of club personnel and the overwhelming positive behaviour of players and spectators will not be defeated by the mindless, inappropriate and selfish actions of a few,” he said.

“I wouldn't say I am shocked by the incident, but I am disappointed.

“We are sending a very clear message of the standard we expect of people involved in football in this area.

“If they can't behave they should find something else to do because that (assault) is not part of the game.

“Football Far North Coast will continue to ensure that our contribution to community standards and adherence to reasonable requirements of playing football are not compromised under any circumstances.”

It is not the first time local soccer has been placed in the spotlight due to poor crowd behaviour.

In 2007, the game took a significant hit after an unruly crowd threw beer cans at a referee following the premier division grand final.

Players from the Italo-Stars club also received hefty bans for abusing the same referee.

But the sport is not alone, with local rugby league and rugby union also recording some crowd problems in the past seven years.