Three charged under new Nazi symbol law
The Sydney Morning Herald
March 5, 2023
Three men who attended last year’s controversial Australia Cup final at CommBank Stadium are among the first in the state to be charged under a new law banning the display of Nazi symbols in NSW.
Macarthur FC prevailed 2-0 against Sydney United 58 on October 1, but the clash was marred by anti-social behaviour which prompted Football Australia to issue life bans to two spectators for making Nazi salutes as well as a range of sanctions against United, including a $15,000 fine and several suspended sporting penalties.
The club, which participated in the defunct National Soccer League between 1984 and 2004 and was founded by Croatian immigrants, later apologised for the behaviour of fans, some of whom also booed during the pre-match Welcome to Country.
Crowd footage broadcast by Network 10 showed some Sydney United fans waving flags and banners featuring logos and symbolism closely associated with the Ustashe, a regime which collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Romani people.
NSW Police have since been investigating allegations of hate crimes committed on the night, including an extensive review of 10’s match coverage and CCTV cameras.
Three men – a 24-year-old from Beverley Park, a 44-year-old from Doonside and a 45-year-old from Wetherill Park – were charged on Friday under the offence of “knowingly display by public act Nazi symbol without excuse”, and will appear before Parramatta Local Court on April 19.
It is believed to be one of the first uses of the new law, which passed NSW parliament in August and was introduced after an inquiry recommended a ban on the public display of Nazi symbols to address rising far-right extremism and antisemitism.
Victoria is the only other state in Australia with a similar law in place, which also permits the use of the swastika in connection with the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faiths, and other Nazi-related symbols if they are used in “good faith” such as for educational reasons.
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said: “We welcome the strong and swift action taken by NSW Police and Football Australia following these vile incidents, and hope these charges serve as a warning to all that displaying a Nazi symbol in NSW is not only abhorrent, it is illegal.”
NSW Police say their investigations into the Australia Cup final are continuing. Separately, Sydney United 58 is also being probed by Football NSW for a recent incident of alleged racist and homophobic abuse by fans against an opposition player.