STATE of Origin contests have long been famed as arenas epitomising physical aggression and tribal combativeness. However, that aggression is spilling over the sidelines with horrifying consequences.
There have been calls to ban live broadcasts of Origin games in Papua New Guinea because of violent outbursts that are erupting after matches, resulting in deaths. Speaking to the ABC, an Enga police spokesman said the interstate matches drove people into a frenzy, and that the only way to eradicate this behaviour was to ban all live coverage. “The way people watch the Origin matches are going crazy nowadays. We’ve got so many deaths…there’s a lot of killing in places because of State of Origin matches,” said the spokesman. “When it’s on live, the people watching it, they go crazy, I don't know for whatever reason. “It’s a game where people normally watch and enjoy themselves but nowadays it’s not that, it’s changing, supporters of the Blues and supporters of the Maroons, they’ve started to hate each other, argue…it’s throughout the country. “I call on the government of Papua New Guinea to ban the live coverage of Origin matches in Papua New Guinea.”
Drunken celebrations caused the deaths of at least three people during this year’s series, while violent altercations between rival supporters reportedly break out after almost every encounter. Houses and business were also ravaged by angry fans during the latest series. Local media reported that supporters clashed outside Wabag after the third and deciding game last Wednesday, pelting each other with rocks. While this particular incident didn’t result in any deaths, it was part of an alarming trend. “After the final State of Origin match, they (opposition fans) started attacking each other,” said the spokesman. “The Blues side started arguing with the supporters of the winning side, then they started throwing punches and then stones and missiles. A lot of youths were hurt that night. “Some tried to attack cops as well.” Six people were arrested following the deaths of three men after the second interstate encounter in June. The spokesman lamented the interest locals placed in the annual spectacle, saying that an event happening in Australia should not bear so much significance to the point where it becomes about life and death. “It’s a game that is played thousands of miles away in Australia. There is no point in watching or supporting this game. We have our own rugby league coverage in our country.”
The spokesman said that there were no issues when international matches were screened live, and suggested postponing coverage until the day after would be the key to decreasing violence.