The Swedish Football Association handed down an unprecedented punishment on AIK for fan violence.
The Disciplinary Committee of the Svenska Fotbollsförbundet on May 12 hit AIK with sanctions and threats made worse by the wake of the fan violence that forced officials to abandon the April 25 match between AIK and Syrianska at the Södertälje Football Arena.
The SvFF awarded Syrianska a 3-0 win for the match, which ended after barely 15 minutes when AIK fans threw explosives on the field, injuring an assistant referee and sending players scampering for cover. In addition, the federation fined AIK 150,000 kronor ($22,000). AIK initially appealed the decision, but the federation held fast.
In addition to the fines and forfeit, the Disciplinary Committee warned AIK management the club faced expulsion from the Allsvenskan if it fails to control its fans. In denying the AIK appeal, the committee pointed to the Swedish football rules which allow the federation to expel teams from the top flight for various reasons, ranging from economic to fan violence.
"The Disciplinary Committee also reiterates the provision in the same statute, the third paragraph, which states that for repeated infractions the team may be excluded from the series it participates in," the committee said.
The decision, officials said, represents the toughest stance the SvFF has ever taken on fan violence. AIK, in particular, has been in the cross hairs after it failed to prevent fan riots at derby matches last season and Champions League qualifiers. Fan attacks on opposing teams earned AIK a series of hefty fines from the Union of European Football Associations.
By threatening expulsion for another incident, the federation put AIK on notice that it was serious about enforcing a “no-tolerance” policy on fan violence. Should another incident take place and the FA follows through on its threat, it would mark the first time the federation relegated a team for fan violence. The SvFF has relegated two teams in the past—Örebro and Örgryte—but those punishments were for economic defaults.
The unprecedented punishment is also signal to other clubs to work to curb excesses of their fans. Djugården, GAIS, Häcken, Helsingborg and Mjällby have all had problems with fan violence in the past two seasons.
In its appeal, AIK claimed videotapes of the match did not conclusively prove its fans threw the explosions. It was a hollow argument. The Disciplinary Committee said the videotapes clearly showed explosives coming from where AIK fans were in the stands. Reports from the referees and witnesses also made it clear AIK fans threw the explosives.
AIK has until May 26 to appeal the decision to the Swedish Sports Ministry.
By Chipp Reid
Players and match officials try to flee from explosives AIK fans threw at them April 25 at Södertälje Football Arena. Bildbyrån photo