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Burma fined after unruly fans invade football pitch, rip up seats

Hundreds of home fans invade the park in celebration at the end of the quarter-final match on 17 October, when Burma defeated United Arab Emirates 1-0. (PHOTO: DVB)

The Myanmar Football Federation was ordered to pay a US$24,000 fine and play one competitive international match behind closed doors within the next two years due to the unruly behaviour of fans at the U-19s games against Iran and United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week.

The punishment was handed down by the Asian Football Confederation’s Disciplinary Committee, which noted that during the group match between Burma and Iran on 13 October at the Thuwunna Stadium in Rangoon, which Iran won 2-0, some local spectators ripped up seats and threw them onto the pitch. They also ignored a regulation to remain in designated spectator zones.

In addition, the Disciplinary Committee noted that at the end of the quarter-final match on 17 October, when Burma defeated UAE 1-0, hundreds of fans invaded the park in celebration. Some are alleged to have taunted members of the opposition team and caused damage to some sports equipment.

The AFC committee said that should Burmese fans display the same kind of behaviour or violate regulations at the semi-final match against Qatar on 20 October, the Burmese team could be subjected to further punishments, such as playing the final match behind closed doors if they win.

The MFF said it will appeal to the AFC to have the penalties lightened.

“The MFF would like to extend its gratitude to all football fans who wholeheartedly supported the Burma U-19s’ team in a disciplined manner during this historic victory,” the Burmese football federation said, noting that the victory qualified Burma not only for the semi-finals, but as one of Asia’s four representatives at the U-20 World Cup to be held in New Zealand next year.

“The AFC U-19 championship is a high-profile pancontinental event, and it is closely followed by spectators from other Asian countries and other continents,” the MFF added. “The display of undesirable behaviour by some fans not only resulted in the AFC’s disciplinary measures, but could also harm Burma’s reputation.

“Should this kind of situation take place again, Burma could lose its capacity to host international matches. It is to all Burmese fans’ knowledge that a display of undesirable behaviour in the World Cup qualifying match against Oman in 2011 also resulted … in a fine and a ban on playing qualifiers at home.”

A World Cup qualifier between Burma and Oman in July 2011 was abandoned after home fans in the Rangoon stadium pelted the pitch with rocks, shoes and water bottles as their team lost.

A ban by FIFA on Burma participating in the 2018 World Cup was later lifted.

The news of Sunday’s disciplinary action comes a day ahead of Burma’s crucial semi-final match against Qatar in Rangoon on Monday.