Oakleigh Cannons-Preston Lions game postponed “for safety reasons”

The soccer game between Oakleigh Cannons FC and Preston Lions (former Preston Makedonia) which was to have taken place on Tuesday night at South Melbourne FC was postponed “for safety reasons”.

Football Australia and Football Victoria announced the postponement on Monday, 3 May. In its official announcement, the group wrote: “Given the interest in this fixture and as a consequence, crowd management requirements at the venue, both Football Australia and Football Victoria believe this postponement will allow all parties to prepare the venue adequately for the anticipated crowd at this FFA Cup fixture, which will also be in the best interests of maximising the enjoyment of the fans that wish to attend this event.”

Sources of Neos Kosmos state that the postponement was deemed necessary so that the supporters of Preston Lions could be safely monitored, bearing in mind that there were supporters coming from Sydney to attend the Melbourne game. It was feared that supporters of the team would use the match to provoke using the Vergina Sun, a Greek symbol which North Macedonians wish to claim as their own. Others use the game to call out provocative anti-Greek slogans. It was feared that Greek fans would also react to the provocations, hence the match was postponed.

Akis Ionas of Oakleigh Cannons FC told Neos Kosmos that the Greek club asked for the match to take place behind closed doors, but this request was rejected.

A number of Greeks, including John Kostoulias from the Pan Macedonian Association of Melbourne and Victoria, have complained over the Optus video titled “Football Belongs | Macedonian Community” which allows North Macedonian soccer fans to advocate for their national matters holding Greek symbols, such as the Vergina Sun, in violation of the Prespes Agreement signed by Greece and North Macedonia.