Top cop violence concern

Are footy field punches leading to a culture of off-field acts?

VIOLENT football brawls could be leading to a culture of violence off the field, according to Wangaratta’s top policeman.

The latest Victoria Police crime statistics show 263 assault charges were laid in Wangaratta over the past 12 months, the exact same figure from the previous year.

Wangaratta Police Service Area (PSA) commander, Inspector David Ryan, said this rate of more than five assault offences per week is “ridiculously high and totally unacceptable”.

Insp Ryan, who is also an Ovens and Murray football umpire, said punches are thrown in games every week around the North East and players are encouraged to be violent by supporters on the sidelines.

“I’m trying to draw a link between the aggression that’s displayed on the football field that’s not within the rules of the contest… I don’t believe there’s any place for that in football,” he said.

“I believe it draws a level of acceptance among young people.”

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