Pressure on FA to be progressive in chanting debate

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This week could be viewed as somewhat of a landmark following the imprisonment of as Swansea University student after he was convicted of making obscene comments on Twitter after the collapse of Fabrice Muamba.

Liam Stacey was jailed for 56 days after a series of racist remarks were forwarded to police by several users of the social network site; a sentence which District Judge John Charles believes was a true reflection of the outrage caused.

"Not just the footballer’s family, not just the footballing world, but the whole world were literally praying for Muamba’s life," he explained upon sentencing.

"Your comments aggravated this situation.

"I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you have done."

Following such a strict sanction from the courts, football clubs and administrators are now under pressure to prove they are doing enough to police any such inappropriate behaviour at matches.

One such idea that has been mooted is for authorities to punish clubs unable to control their supporters by imposing the threat of points deductions or forcing teams to play matches behind closed doors.

This idea has been given the esteemed backing of Nick Hawkins, who has developed policy within the Crown Prosecution Service on how to tackle criminal acts within sport.

“One area where I would argue we need more support from sports authorities is in dealing with inappropriate crowd behaviour and, in particular, chanting,” Hawkins said during a lecture at the University of Portsmouth, as reported by The Telegraph.

“Making clubs play games behind closed doors hits them in their pockets, and deducting league points lessens a club’s chance of qualifying for Europe or promotion, again hitting them financially.

“Football authorities have dealt with violent crowd behaviour this way, not to mention deduction of points for going into administration.

“I would strongly urge clubs to stop their fans singing some of their more choice chants - do Pompey fans really need to sing about ‘hitting scummers [their abusive term for Southampton supporters] with a brick’? - and for the authorities to take action over clubs that fail to do so if these abusive chants become a habit.”

The Football Association have already demonstrated their willingness to use their greatest power possible to deal with player indiscretions following Luis Suarez's ban for making racially insulting remarks towards Patrice Evra.

It is now down to the FA to become more forceful when attempting to combat vile chanting from the terraces, with such fan behaviour appearing to have plummeted to lower depths this season than for a number of years.

This is, of course, particularly difficult to police when thousands of people chant at any one give time, and the clubs are trusted by the FA to ensure they taking the right measures to combat any potential issues.

There will be many that contest the proposal of greater security measures at football grounds, with the reduction in civil liberties an issue for society as a whole in recent years.

But, if only a minority indulge in potentially illegal chanting at games, then the innocent supporters will surely understand the requirement for more stringent measures for the cause of the greater good.

The FA often regard themselves - and sometimes rightly so - as leaders when it comes forward thinking in the world of football. And hitting clubs harder for the actions of their supporters will be a serious statement of intent.

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