Australians have been warned by an Amman-based Socceroos fan to wear green and gold at their peril when the national team faces Jordan on Friday morning (AEDT) after a group of Aussies were “roughed up” the last time the teams clashed in the capital.
Hotelier Raymond Gordon, who has plastered warnings of potential violence aimed at Australian fans on the walls of his downtown digs, will not risk attending the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier after being “slapped and kicked” in the aftermath of Jordan’s 2-1 win over the Socceroos at the King Abdullah International Stadium in September 2012.
Palestinian-born Mr Gordon, who spent 40 years in Australia before returning to the Middle East, believes “thugs” will again be a threat to visiting supporters – especially if Australia takes all three points.
Mr Gordon said that the mood turned ugly, even though Jordanians were celebrating a famous win, as he and a group of a dozen Australian fans filed out of the stadium.
They eventually had to be ferried to safety in police vehicles after running the gauntlet of hostile home fans, who were chanting abuse and kicking and slapping them.
Another vehicle carrying Australian fans was hit by a rock but they were no casualties and they left the scene unscathed in a separate incident that night.
In a further slap in the face for Socceroos fans, they are being asked to fork out almost $100 a ticket to sit in a designated area on Friday, while locals are only being charged $6 for entry.
Mr Gordon insists that Australians attending the game – to be staged on this occasion at the Amman International stadium in a less run down section of the city - shouldn't wear Aussie shirts and carry scarves to avoid attracting the wrong sort of attention.
“I was there with my wife and about 12 Australians who were staying at the hotel and we dressed in green and yellow and we were in high spirits during the game,” he said.
“They had a special section for us and during the match itself we were pretty safe.
“But as he filed out at the end, the trouble started. People were heckling us and shouting ‘losers’ and some started getting physical and aggressive.
“Luckily the police came, but even with them giving us cordon, the thugs were putting the hands over them and were banging us on the head and were kicking us also. The women with us were petrified.
“Thank God we lost that night, I shudder to think what might have happened had we won.
“I would urge any Australians not to wear the green and gold on this occasion. I think there might very well be more trouble."
However hard-core Australian fan and blogger Pablo Bateson, who has been a perennial traveller with the team over the years and was there three years ago in the van struck by the rock, insists he and an estimated 100-plus Australians who will attend the game are at no undue risk.
Back in Jordan for his 32nd consecutive World Cup qualifier with the Socceroos, Bateson said: “I am not expecting any particular problems. There were issues in 2012 but that was a very different setting in the Palestinian district and there was some over exuberance from fans before and after the game.
“We are not feeling threatened. We stick together and we are finding the Jordanian people people friendly and warm."
Despite that Bateson, who writes for the website Football Today, was due to visit officials at the Australian embassy in Amman on Wednesday to discuss arrangements for supporters.
Only a handful have travelled from Australia, but their numbers will be swelled by expats from within Jordan and around the Middle East and Europe.
“Our section will be quite large in number hopefully. I am sorry to hear about some previous experiences but I think the Jordan FA will have learned from that," he added.
“We will be walking to the stadium and we're not expecting trouble … I don’t go along with feelings of heightened danger, although you can never say never.
“There were some isolated incidents in 2012 but it never looked like it was getting out of hand. If you are fearful you don’t enjoy football or life.”
The FFA is fully aware of potential problems fans might face but is not feeding any perception of imminent threats.
“FFA has spoken to the JFA and the AFC Match Commissioner to ensure the best possible environment for our travelling fans,” said an FFA spokesperson.
“All fans are also encouraged to register with Smart Traveller, which is the Australian Government’s official source of information for Australians traveling overseas.”