Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) Chairman Craig Foster has today written to the Editor of the Herald Sun in response to a piece which  appeared in the paper which attempted to claim that football fans were the greatest threat to safety on Australian streets.

Dear Editor,

As Chairman of Professional Footballers Australia (PFA), the exclusive representative of Australia’s professional footballers, I write in relation to a piece that appeared in today’s Herald Sun titled “Soccer thugs are emerging new radicals with mindset for street warfare.”

The piece was either a disgraceful attempt to portray the beautiful game and its fans in a negative light with no substantiation or foundation, or a satirical masterpiece poking fun at historical attempts by your newspaper to attack the multicultural, global and Australian game of football. As yet, I am not quite sure which and was hoping you may be able to illuminate the issue.

Given the extraordinary lack of foundation in the piece, it would appear to be a clever characterisation of the anti football media bias we sometimes still see in Australia, though which stands so starkly against a backdrop of tremendous growth in the game and, of course, overwhelming appreciation and acceptance by the Australian public. If this is so, please apologise to the journalist in question on my behalf, as I was not quick to get the joke.

Even for satire, which succeeds by stretching narrow points to their absolute extreme, it was quite a brilliant piece of writing, in that connections were drawn and propositions made without any underlying justification whatsoever. Most brave, and my compliments to the writer.

Were it, on the other hand, meant as a serious piece, I would imagine that you would be gravely concerned at the analogies drawn between football fans stopping traffic, and jihadists seeking wanton death and destruction and an end to the Western, liberal democratic society as we know it.

Clearly, no such link should ever be made (perhaps not even in satire) in a publication with a responsibility to maintain basic standards of journalism in the public domain.

Further, to suggest that football fans in Australia present a grave threat to the streets of of this country is a fictional creation of the most supreme creativity, not to mention reprehensible, considering the genuine issues facing society today. Evidence for this fantastical proposition was that fans caused ‘traffic congestion’. If terror on the streets means a traffic jam, then your journalist has created a new definition which places us all at great risk. Just yesterday, I personally took an inordinate amount of time to cross at a red light, slowing traffic considerably and, by this measure, should expect to see a summons in the mail shortly.

Our football fans have driven the growth of our wonderful game, better represent the rich diversity of Australian society than any other sport and create an atmosphere that is the envy of all other major codes. The envy, too, one might conclude, of other major newspapers?

On behalf of our members, the professional footballers of Australia, we condemn this portrayal of our football fans in the strongest possible terms and call on the Herald Sun to treat football in a manner consistent with the game’s significant and burgeoning contribution to the Australian sporting landscape and to the broader multicultural community.

Or, alternatively, I very much look forward to more satire.

Craig Foster | PFA Chairman