Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) has welcomed changes made to the banning process for A-League matches and called on fans to play by the rules to ensure that those who look to attack football are denied the opportunity to do so.

Speaking after Football Federation Australia (FFA) announced changes to its banning procedures, Interim PFA Chairman Craig Foster said the moves were an important step forward, but cautioned that more needed to be done.

“These changes are welcomed and are overdue,” said Foster. “The relationship between fans and the game must be a genuine one and must be more than a transaction.

“Fans are a critical stakeholder in the game and, at a minimum, are entitled to a fair appeals process in the event that they are charged with an offence.

“This whole episode has highlighted that there must be a greater role for fans to contribute so that issues can be resolved and opportunities identified. Only through regular dialogue can we achieve the necessary unity of purpose to take the game to the next level.

“Throughout this season we have seen many with a vested interest attack the game. We must not give them the ammunition to do so.

“In the past week the actions of a minority have put at risk the continued growth of the game, and this is unacceptable.

“Respect is a fundamental value of football, and fans, like players, must also respect the rules, otherwise the game will suffer as a result.”

PFA President Matt McKay said all stakeholders must unite behind a shared mission.

“The measures introduced today by FFA are a positive step for the game and afford fans what is a basic right,” said McKay.

“The fans’ passion for the game pushes players to another level.

“The greatest football leagues in the world have been defined by their fans and the A-League’s supporters are driving the game to new heights. This must not be undermined by the actions of a few.

“Safety for all fans and players at football matches is non-negotiable and should never be compromised.

“Australian football needs everyone working towards a common objective. Only then can we unlock the game’s enormous potential.”