Fan rampage mars women’s football match in Mandalay

YANGON — Football authorities in Myanmar on Thursday blamed a “mindset” problem among some fans after hooliganism marred a women’s national team match against Vietnam – the latest in a series of violent flare ups at the country’s stadiums.

A small group of supporters went on the rampage Tuesday night in Mandalay, tearing up stadium seats and destroying a public toilet block, after a penalty was awarded against Myanmar in the dying minutes of the second half.

The penalty allowed Vietnam to equalise and the visitors went on to win the AFF Women’s Championship semi-final on penalties, knocking Myanmar from the tournament.

Officials had to halt the match for half an hour between the end of the second half and extra time because of the rioting.

“This is kind of a mindset problem,” Zaw Min Htike, media director of the Myanmar Football Federation, told AFP, saying more needed to be done to make fans “understand and accept the rules of game.”

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He added that he took solace from the fact that many other Myanmar fans tried to calm down the hardcore supporters when the violence broke out.

“There were some seats destroyed by bad fans and they even destroyed the public toilets in the stadium. That’s bad,” he said.

Mandalay’s stadium was packed with some 30,000 fans on Tuesday night, proof that women’s teams can draw equally large crowds in the football loving nation.

However hooliganism at Myanmar’s football matches has been common in recent years.

In 2011, the country was banned from World Cup qualifiers by the sport’s organising body after a home tie against Oman had to be stopped when the crowd pelted the opposition with bottles and rocks.

The ban was eventually lifted on appeal.

Two years later police in Yangon used water cannon to disperse rioting fans who tore up seats, burned shirts and hurled stones at officers after the hosts were dumped out of the Southeast Asian Games.

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