Former Wanderers star says FFA needs to embrace football fan culture and passion

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RBB Western Sydney Wanderers
The ex-Wanderers defender believes football's decision makers aren't doing enough to connect with fans and figure out solutions to issues

Former Western Sydney Wanderers defender Shannon Cole believes Football Federation Australia needs to welcome fan culture and passion - and not push the game to be like other sports.

The relationship between the FFA and supporters has hit an all-time low this season with A-League crowds and TV figures plummeting as the campaign progresses.

There has been regular protests by fans against the governing body including the infamous demonstration by the Wanderers supporter group Red and Block Bloc during last month's Sydney derby - in which flares were lit and anti-FFA messages were displayed.

Wanderers management responded to the controversy by barring the RBB from their active area behind the goals at Spotless Stadium for last Sunday's match against Perth Glory.

Cole, who was an inaugural member of the Wanderers in 2012, believes punishment is not the solution to the issue and is adamant the FFA must start working with fans.

While saying he didn't condone flares, Cole also mentioned MLS club Orlando City's agreement with their supporters, which sees safe smoke device and standing areas implemented at their home venue.

"I said years ago at a football forum that the Australian football decision makers and ideas trust needed to embrace the passion and culture of football fans, don't try and make us like every other spectator sport, we are different," Cole wrote on Facebook.

"Our fans participate in the game and those who lived through the Parramatta years of WSW's beginnings will know this better than most in Australia. 

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"Our sporting culture is what makes our sport different, don't turn your back on it... Provide solutions, not punishments to clubs and players, and if you don't have solutions... Move on, it's not the job for you.

"Bravo MLS and Orlando City for embracing their football culture and enhancing it."

Cole spent four seasons at Western Sydney - winning the Asian Champions League in 2014 and the A-League premiers plate in 2012-13.

Previously he played for Wanderers' derby rivals Sydney FC and was capped once for the Socceroos in 2010.