Italian Referendum. It’s not #Brexit or #Trump

One thing that gets noticed quickly if you are a media junkie like me is that often a narrative arises in reporting an event.  In Australia we had the ‘Howard Battlers’ for some time which really didn’t exist. Now with Brexit and Donald Trump winning the presidency of the United States we have the narrative of ‘the people rebelling against the elite’ and variations of this theme.  This is amplified in social media where people who believe in something feed in this narrative.

After Brexit and Trump, the media went to look for another ‘domino’ to fall. Next was the Austrian election for president who did not fit the narrative as the Green candidate defeated the right wing one.

Next was the Italian Referendum.  I thought that the narrative of attaching anything ‘against the elites’ or the EU was odd to start with.  This election was about changing the constitution to change how the Senate was elected and its function.  There are other changes which are quite detail and not that exciting.  Wikipedia has a good page about it if interested. 

But I already read articles about ‘The next big thing’ to happen after Brexit and Trump and I tweeted this before the results.

And straight after the results the comments in the media were that the result ‘Throws the EU into chaos’.  Basically that’s because the Prime Minister Renzi stated that if the referendum failed he would resign.  Renzi which was not actually elected, but appointed by the President of Italy (considering that Renzi’s party the Partito Democratico has the majority in the lower house).  Renzi was very popular initially but then became very unpopular..very.  And this referendum for many wasn’t much an issue about the reform but a way of voters to get their baseball bats ready for him.

This referendum with its quite dry proposals wouldn’t have had much attention if it was not for the Brexit/Trump narrative.

But beside the media the reaction from the brexiters/pro-Trump in the UK and USA was something to behold.

All I can say is that these people are going to be so disappointed in a few months’ time. Italy is very angry towards Europe. The Euro has really disadvantaged its economy, and some are angry because they believe the EU is not doing enough to help with a refugee crisis they feel Italy has to sort out by itself.

An Opinion poll done just after Brexit,  show that while only 30% has faith in the European Union, 81% is not happy with its immigration policies and 70% view the EU’s political policies negatively, 80% want to stay in the European Union.

Populist parties like the 5 Star Movement may want to do a referendum to get out of the Euro currency, but there’s no talk of completely exiting from the EU like the UK has done.

Italian journalist Beppe Severgnini writes in the New York Times:

Here and abroad, columnists are dashing off dark warnings about the impending collapse of the euro, and maybe the European Union. After Brexit, Rexit! crow his opponents.

Not true. David Cameron didn’t have to call a referendum. But Mr. Renzi had no choice; in Italy, constitutional reforms must gain final approval from the people. This wasn’t an extraordinary event. In any other moment, it would have passed almost unremarked, as the demise of one more Italian government in a long string of them……

Is Mr. Renzi’s tearful demise another bump after Mr. Trump, then? Not really. Mr. Trump’s victory was unexpected; Mr. Renzi’s defeat was entirely predictable. And Italy is not showing signs of post-traumatic stress, like America. The next prime minister will not be Beppe Grillo, the maverick populist (and admirer of Mr. Trump), nor as colorful, nor as lively. After the tumultuous 1,000 days of Mr. Renzi — who proposed a lot, accomplished a little and left few stones unturned — Italy wants to be quiet for a while.

While European analyst Luca Scazzieri wrote in the Guardian:

Italy’s referendum does not mark a political earthquake. Its causes are different, and its effects on domestic and international politics are likely to be contained.

Italy’s no vote does not fit quite so neatly into the narrative of a populist revolt against globalisation and elites. Themes such as globalisation and immigration did not feature as strongly in the debate. Instead, after Renzi stated that he would resign if the constitutional reforms were rejected, the debate was focused on his own record as prime minister. And while of course populists voted no, many of the other no voters did so against the substance of the reforms, arguing that they were anti-democratic and would have altered constitutional checks and balances. Unlike Britain and the US, where elites were homogeneously in favour of remaining in the EU and opposed to Trump, in the Italian case, the political establishment and the experts were split in two……

Opposition to the proposed constitutional changes did not just come from the populist Five Star Movement and the nationalist Northern League, but also from mainstream political figures. These included factions of Renzi’s own Democratic party, former prime ministers such as Massimo D’Alema and Mario Monti, prominent academics and former constitutional court judges. This was not a vote that neatly pitted globalists against nativists or “the populists” against “the establishment”.

As for many things about Italy, and especially about its politics, applying a template which may work in the UK and the USA does not work. It is a more fractured society where there are currents and undercurrents, where things are not clear cut.

That is why those that see this referendum as another blow towards the demise of the EU, or like Trump an expression against the ‘elites’ are going to be disappointed.

Italy will somehow muddle along. Like it has always done.

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457 Visa review is not ‘Hansonism’ or ‘Protectionism. #auspol

In the post Trump word we seems to live in a topsy turvy world where a Prime Minister who owns a multi million Point Piper mansion in Sydney criticises ‘elites’ , and where analysing whether the current way of getting overseas workers through the 457 visa is ‘Trump-lite’ by someone who has exported Australian jobs to New Zealand.

Or even when a government accuses the opposition of populism in the week when they are considering shipping refugees in Malaysia, something they vehemently opposed a few years ago. 

Turnbull has accused Shorten of hypocrisy as the highest number of 457 visas were granted when he was the employment minister. although Labor retorted the numbers were high under Mr Shorten because he inherited a system with few restrictions as a consequence of policies of the former the Howard government.

But going beyond the inevitable partisan toing and froing, the question remains that there is some level of misgivings about this program.  While the media and politicians may have resurrected this issue after Trump, this issue has been bubbling along.  The Australian Union movement has raised it for some time.  ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver talked about this in 2013.

If we characterise this issue as a capital  – labour one, it is important to ensure that capital does not take hold of the arguments like Michael Stutchbury has done on Insiders this morning.

Joanna Howe, Senior Lecturer in Law, University of Adelaide wrote in The Conversation that there are a group of employers that are taking advantage of the situation, disadvantaging local workers and exploiting the foreign 457 visa workers.

But when we drill down into how the 457 visa works in practice, Labor does have a point when it claims that local workers are missing out on job opportunities. At present there is no proper mechanism for ensuring there is a skill shortage for the jobs in which employers are using 457 visas. This means employers can use 457 visas in areas where Australians are ready and able to be employed….

This means the 457 visa can be used by employers who wish to access foreign labour for an ulterior motive. While most decent employers will not do this, research shows there is a core group of employers that prefer temporary migrant workers because they are more compliant, work harder and are less likely to complain or be unionised.

Pro-business voices in the media such as Stutchbury, and basically everyone in News Ltd. will be ready to portray attempts to reform 457 visas as ‘protectionism’ ‘Trump-like’ and ‘xenophobic’.  It is a bit where the xenophobia in punishing refugees in Manus Island and Nauru is hidden behind ‘preventing the drownings’.

We should disregard Pauline Hanson saying that Labor is taking its cues from her party.  Hanson will maximise her media exposure, she’s very good at that.

The ALP has to frame the narrative not on ‘we don’t want foreigners taking Australian jobs’ , but in the sense that some businesses are rorting the system to put both Australian and foreign workers at a disadvantage to maximise profits.  This seems the approach of the ACTU and the ALP should follow this lead.

As Joanna Howe states:

……the conversation needs to be respectful and responsible – it should be about protecting Australian access to job opportunities and protecting foreign workers from rampant exploitation. This is a problem of the government’s own making and the fault lies squarely at its door for the shambolic way it manages temporary labour migration.

 

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Would an Australian electoral system got #Clinton elected? #RankedChoiceVoting #rankedvoting

There is no denying that there are many shocked people about Donald Trump being President of the United States.

One thing that is somehow comforting many Americans is that Hilary Clinton was actually voted by more people than Trump.   With a parliamentary system where members are elected to represent a particular area, having an accurate translation of this into seats does not always happens.  In Australia we also had issues in this.  In the 1998 election the ALP got 50.98% of the vote compared to the Coalition 49.2%, but ended up losing the election with the Coalition ending up with 54.05% of the seats compared with the ALP 45.27% .

In the USA this is further complicated by the electoral college system where “electors” are those who pledge beforehand to vote for the candidate of a particular party.

In the aftermath of the Trump victory, there have been recriminations that the other two candidates Jill Stein and Gary Johnson lost Clinton the election.

According to articles by CNN and Mic  if half (or more) of third-party voters in the key states of Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had just picked Clinton instead of Johnson or Stein, she would have won.

So what if the USA had an Australian style preferential system, could have Clinton won those states?  Before looking at this it has to be noted that in Australia no candidate gets 100% of the preferences.  Antony Green shows in his website that in 2016 Green preferences flowed 81.94% to the ALP and 18.06% to the Coalition.

Florida

florida

So if we had a similar trend in the State of Florida and assume that 82% of preferences went to Clinton she would have received 52,495 extra votes.  Which would mean a total of 4,538,240 which would have not won over Trump.  The issue here is how many preferences would have gone from the much higher vote of Johnson.  The Libertarian Party is a mix bags of abolishing the welfare state completely but allowing abortion and decriminalising drug use, so who knows where conservatives would have placed a second preference.   Clinton would have needed more than 67,275 preferences from Johnson voters which 32.6% of those voters, and that’s not outside the realm of possibility.  But but with preferential voting Johnson’s voters would also give preferences to Trump.  So it would all depend on that.

Michigan

michigan

In Michigan if Clinton got 82% of the Stein preferences she would have got 41,562 extra votes giving her a total of 2,308,935. Include some preferences from Johnson votes I think  she would might have been home and hosed here.

Pennsylvania

pennsylvania

Using the same criteria Clinton would have received 40,108 extra votes bringing her to 2,884,816 which would not have helped her.  She would have needed more than 28,125 from Johnson voters which is not outside the realm of possibility, but again with preferential voting Johnson’s voters would also give preferences to Trump.  I can’t see that preferential voting would have got Clinton the state here.

Wisconsin

wisconsin

Here the 82% flow of Stein preferences to Clinton would have got her 25,404 extra votes, taking her to 1,407,616, just under Trump.  In this case the Johnson’s voters preferences would have decided who would win the state.

So could have Clinton won?

I am no psephologist. These are really back of an envelope calculations.  But I hope they can demonstrate that preferential voting can affect the outcome of an election.

Whatever the result, the benefit of preferential voting is that no vote is wasted.  Votes for Stein and Johnson were disregarded, while with preferential voting even those voters have an influence on the outcome.

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Horses for courses. Why misbehaviour at the races treated differently than an #Aleague match.

Why is misbehaviour at the horse racing and the football treated differently? How this exposes the cultural divide.

There have been many comments on social media regarding the way misbehaviour at the Spring Carnival Racing was treated so differently from the misbehaviour at A-League matches. How if football fans got drunk and unruly like many who went to the races it would have been reported with the usual ‘soccer shame’ articles.

However the equivalence is not there.  Going to the races and getting blind drunk (or even at the cricket in some way) it is not ‘acceptable’ but falls within what is a behavour that is within the norm in Australia.  Even at the start of European colonisation alcohol was a feature, as Rob Moodie wrote in The Conversation.

There’s little doubt that alcohol is an important part of Australian culture. According to the author of The Rum State, Milton Lewis, heavy drinking was an established cultural norm transported to Australia at the time of colonisation…..

It was the norm in Britain to drink heavily and gin epidemics were devastating entire communities at the time. Lewis says that alcohol in Europe had long served as a food and source of nutrition as the diets of the time were very restricted and there wasn’t a lot else to choose from.

For a time, spirits were used in barter and convicts were part-paid in rum. In this way, rum became a currency of the colony – hence the term “a rum state”. The control of alcohol gave enormous political power. And alcohol was reportedly involved in the only military coup in Australia – the Rum rebellion in 1808.

So, while it is nothing to be proud of, alcohol consumption even to excess has been part of Australian white culture from the start.

So when it happens at an event such as the Spring Carnival, at an AFL match or at the cricket incidents tend to be sporadic, isolated to individuals which the police can handle quite easily.

With active fans police is confronted with something quite different.  An organised large group of (mainly) young men who jump and chant in unison.  I think this creates a different mindset.  When police have to deal with crowd behaviour, they are not dealing with a few drunken yobbos but they see a whole large group of people as a unit.  No wonder why in certain cases they bring out the riot squad because they believe that if there are any issues they may have to take a large group of excited fans on, rather than pick one or two individuals.

As I said before this type of policing is counterproductive. But it demonstrates the perception that a few too many and falling down stairs or trying to hump a garbage bin is ‘just a few people being worse for wear’ while football support is seen still outside the Australian cultural mainstream and therefore problematic, dangerous and foreign.

 

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Rebecca Wilson. Football, Leyonhjelm and respecting a human being.

I really didn’t want to write this post very much, but as I got involved in twitter debates after the untimely death of Rebecca Wilson I decided I needed to explain my views on this matter.

Should we stop criticising someone just because they died?

I share somewhat the opinion that when someone dies he or she is shielded from criticism.  I think of this when the lives of those who died in terrorism attacks is reported in the media, they are always wonderful human beings. After a few year I remember someone questioning the account of the 3000 people who died in the 9/11 attacks that it was impossible that everyone would have been an absolute angel.

However we must also remember that everyone has a human dimension.  Rebecca Wilson was a soccerphobe, but that does not mean that her death at a relatively young age should be celebrated because ‘it is one less voice against football’ as some have tweeted.

She was a daughter, a sister, a mother and a wife of someone.  Her passing will give grief and pain to other human beings no matter what she wrote in a newspaper, and this will always have to be remembered.

Perhaps I feel strongly because Wilson was one year younger than myself, and I could think of the desperation I would feel facing a diagnosis like that when I have so much life to live, wanting to see my son grow perhaps having children of his own, and having that taken away.

Perhaps because this evokes memories on my brother in law, a healthy man who would ride his bicycle every weekend for hours, struck down by esophageal cancer at 56.  His daughter just had a baby three weeks ago, and he was not to share this event with her.

Perhaps people that tweet somewhat pleased that Wilson is no longer around to write against football are young and have been fortunate enough to experience the feelings that a cancer diagnosis of a loved one can have.

Why I criticise David Leyonhjelm’s tweet

This tweet by Senator David Leyonhjelm has created a huge backlash.  And I have criticised it myself.  Senator Leyonhjelm defends this tweet by bringing to attention her reporting of a leaked document about people banned by FFA (often for minor misdemeanours or even for wrong people) has seriously affected some people’s lives (being sacked from their jobs etc.) He put out this statement:

“Rebecca Wilson wrote a story in the Sunday Telegraph in 2015 in which she purported to name and shame fans of the Western Sydney Wanderers who she claimed had been banned by the Football Federation for loutish behaviour.  This was accompanied by photographs of the individuals.

“In fact, some of the people named had never been banned, some had been banned on spurious grounds, and some were under 18 and should never have been named even if they had legitimately banned”

“The response by fans was to boycott games, eventually forcing the FFA to modify its approach to banning fans and to treat them with decency and natural justice.”

“However, Western Sydney Wanderers fans never forgot Wilson’s failure to check facts or shabby treatment.  As I said in my tweet, I do not expect them to attend her funeral.”

“If you think that’s offensive, you need to get out more.  I stand by my tweet.  Furthermore, death does not suddenly absolve us of what we did when we were alive”

 

I have criticised Wilson in the past. And I stand by that now.

 

 

 

 

However, I believe there is a time and place. Wilson was wrong when she wrote that article, and it was shameful she ‘exposed’ minors, innocent people or made out that those who made minor infringements were ‘hooligans’. She didn’t like Association Football and she wrote negative things about it. That is not disputed. I also don’t dispute that when we will remember Rebecca Wilson this should be also be part of her legacy. But to make what could be construed as a lighthearted remark that Western Sydney fans would not attend her funeral just a few hours after her death I think is really insensitive.

The other issue is that what Leyonhjelm is counter-productive. I can see that for some fans, the positive eulogies in the media would have been perceived as unbalanced because her actions against A-League fans were not mentioned.

If the intention was to highlight the injustice meted out to the banned fans then the Senator did an ‘own goal’ by his timing and tone of the tweet, as all the attention and anger was towards him rather than on the issue he wanted to highlight.  Too ‘smart’ for his own good.

I can’t speak for Rebecca Wilson as I didn’t know her.  But from I can gather she was a strong woman and stood by her stories, even if most football fans felt they were biased and wrong.  I think that her actions and writing should not be whitewashed and same as maintaining a critical of them.

There will be plenty of times to talk about Rebecca Wilson the writer.  At this time we should let Rebecca Wilson, the daughter, the sister, the mother, the wife take precedence.

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Western Bulldogs #AFL premiership shows important lessons for #ALeague

whitten-oval-container-and-skyline
Harcourt, E. (2012, October 1). Whitten Oval container and skyline [Digital image]. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/memoir-melbournes-good-fortune/

There is a positive vibe in Melbourne today.

The Western Bulldogs (aka Footscray) have won a Premiership after 62 years, and the majority of Melbourne footy fans were hoping the ‘Sons of the West’ would finally lift the cup.  I believe there are some lessons in this for the FFA.

“Old soccer – New Football….Old VFL – New AFL”

The FFA when instituted the A-League it spoke of ‘Old soccer, new football’.  This was an attempt of saying to potential fans that the old days of soccer on small grounds played by teams with predominantly Non English Speaking Background (NESB) heritage in the NSL were over and Association Football would be played by new teams with no apparent affiliation to any particular community.

While the AFL was not created with such an abrupt brake, it also went through a number of changes as it transitioned from the Victorian Football League to the Australian Football League.

Traditional VFL teams such as South Melbourne and Fitzroy were exported and re-branded as Sydney Swans and Brisbane Bears (later Lions).

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Fitzroy farewell their fans after their last match as AFL team. 25/8/1996

Keating, M. (2012, April 3). Brad Boyd and his Fitzroy side farewell its fans at the MCG [Digital image]. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl/why-the-afl-should-say-sorry-to-fitzroy/story-fncqi9j8-1226316729628

This caused consternation amongst their fans who saw their teams ripped away from them.  But the AFL continued to thrive, and it is not an organisation to give up easily, and it has the money and the power to go for the long haul and after the first bumpy years both the Sydney Swans and Brisbane Lions went on to win premierships and establish themselves in their new cities.

But for many Victorian supporters these teams, in parts of Australia where Australian Rules Football was not part of the culture, were seen as a bit on an imposition.  They were seen as a business strategy by the AFL, rather because they were clamoured by people in NSW and Queensland.

This was the case especially for the Greater Western Sydney Giants.  While Melbourne fans may accept now that Sydney has an AFL team, many see the creation of the GWS as a purely business enterprise to introduce Australian Rules into an area of economic of demographic  growth.  It is seen as a purely artificial creation by the AFL who has subsidised them over $100m, gifted them No 1 draft choices, salary cap concessions and exclusive access to NSW regions to put them in a position where they could have made the grand final after five years.

So ironically, some of the antipathy that Association Football supporters feel about GWS is somewhat also shared by Victorian AFL fans

Western Bulldogs a community team

I think that one of the main reasons why so many Melbourne AFL fans were so supportive of the Western Bulldogs, was not only because they didn’t win a premiership for yonks, but also because it is one of the AFL teams that imbues the old feelings of a team-one community.

Other ‘bigger’ teams such as Collingwood, Carlton and Hawthorn have lost a sense of geographic connection, while (with the exception of Geelong, that represents a separate city altogether) Western Bulldogs is a traditional VFL/AFL team that still has a strong connection to its Western suburbs origins.  And that why the finals against the Sydney Swans and especially the Greater Western Sydney Giants took on an extra dimension.  Here was a traditional team, supported by mainly working class people from a working class area, who haven’t won for yonks.  Who like South Melbourne and Fitzroy was almost obliterated by the AFL  but managed to survive through the resolve of its fans against the odds winning a premiership against the AFL ‘creations’ to benefit its corporate strategy.

Now, I know there are plenty of genuine Sydney Swans and GWS supporters out there.  I am just expressing what I believe is a very Melbourne sentiment.

But as I will reiterate later, sport is often more based on emotion and perception than reality.

 What this has to do with the A-League?

I think there are some parallels with teams such as GWS, Sydney Swans and Brisbane Roar and most A-League teams.  All of them share the fact that they were all a creation of their respective bodies, the FFA and the AFL.

They were created specifically as a strategy rather than organically from members and a community.

So while a club like GWS has more in common in its origins with a Melbourne City, what the Western Bulldogs would have more in common as an Association Football equivalent in that part of Melbourne?

The answer are teams such Footscray  JUST (no longer in existence) and Melbourne Knights.  The connection was even acknowledged by the Knights in a tweet before the AFL Grand Final.

But now we arrive at the elephant in the room, where angels fear to tread.  The fact that teams like Footscray JUST and Melbourne Knights are not artificial constructions – they were created by a community, and that community is predominantly from a certain part of Europe.

I can go through all the arguments I’ve had on this subject before.  The main one that it really doesn’t matter whether a team was created by Australians who happen to be of Croatian, or Greek heritage no more than those from Ireland or Scotland.  But the fact is that following a team is in the realm of emotion, not rationality.  I know of committed Association Football fans who didn’t give a hoot who created the team, they wanted to follow football.  The evidence remains whether there were enough to sustain a competition.  Beside emotion, we are dealing with perception rather than reality.  And while true believers knew that many teams were broadening from their traditional origins didn’t matter if the perception was there amongst some potential Association Football fans.

So the A-League was created with no or little NESB heritage.  This was construed as appeasing xenophobia by some traditional team supporters.  It may also be understandablein marketing terms (remember we are dealing with perception) that the FFA wanted a ‘clean break’ from a competition that perhaps undeservedly didn’t have a great reputation.  But this placed those communities that fostered and nurtured the sport for years offside, and adding to the injury when they were allowed to participate in a nation wide competition with the FFA Cup, the FFA rushed to ensure they wouldn’t display any ‘ethnicity’ through the National Club Identity Policy    (NCIP)

Moving ahead. Traditional teams are an asset, not something to exclude

One thing that the premiership by the Western Bulldogs have shown is that true community teams create a buzz.  The history, the stories of people who have supported the team for generations etc.  These stories are powerful.  The fact remains that only traditional teams such as the Melbourne Knights, South Melbourne or Sydney Olympic can deliver these type of stories when Melbourne Victory or SydneyFC can’t.

I saw a bit of that when The Age sent one of its most lyrical writers about Australian Rules Football to write about a FFA Cup match.  If anyone reads Martin Flanagan he writes often of the history of Aussie Rules and the AFL, it’s indigenous traditions and past.  It was fascinating reading something similar about Association Football.

The main feeling you get about South Springvale Football Club is its closeness.  Its star striker, 20-year-old Hameed Ali, is a very quiet young man.  Asked what he likes about the club, he says, “They take such good care of you.” Alex Florea, the young man who arrives for training wearing crystal pendants and medallions around his neck to ward off negative energies, puts it this way: “When you love something, you do it unconditionally. You don’t expect anything in return. That’s how it is here – we don’t even get paid.”

These are the ‘Western Bulldogs’ type of stories that only truly community clubs can generate.

While a break from the past may have been necessary twelve years ago, we have now moved on where persisting in excluding traditional teams is illogical and in fact is a loss to the advancement of football in Australia.

Communities that love football and have nurtured it for the past half a century is an asset that has to be included and made felt welcome by the FFA.  The creation of a competition where current A-League teams and traditional teams feel are part of something all together through a promotion and relegation system can create something unique in the Australian sporting landscape.

The FFA should  not be scared of identities that are NESB.  As a first step it should abandon the NCIP, they will see that the sky will not fall down.  And then institute a plan for a promotion/relegation system that is viable and sustainable.

Then also Association Football in Australia can have its good vibe stories.

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Will there be peace in the footy wars? A response to Tim Harcourt.

There are two sporting events that I hold as the greatest ones I witnessed in my life.  One was in Sydney when Australia after more than three decades the National Team qualified for a FIFA World Cup, and the other was my first Carlton premiership at the MGC in 1979.

These statements is something that I often feel I need to reiterate when discussing the so called ‘Code Wars’ because -as games- I like both the code I grew up with: Association Football, and the one of the place I migrated to: Australian Rules Football.

Anyone that has read my blog would have noticed that the issue of ‘code war’ between Association Football and Australian Rules is a favourite of mine.  Not the sport itself, because as I said before I love both, but my criticism is of the way Association Football is portrayed in the media, and as an extension of that how it reflect a notion of ‘us vs them’, even among fellow inner suburban caffe latte sipping lefties like me.

When I read the title of Tim Harcourt article in the Footy Almanac: Will there be peace in the footy wars? initially I thought it was dealing with the ‘war’ between the AFL and Rugby League.  After all in the past few weeks we had the great success of the Greater Western Sydney Giants who were just a goal away to be in a Grand Final who would have ruffled a few feathers in NRL land considering they would see Western Sydney as their patch.  And also we have the Melbourne Storm now in a Grand Final.

Tim’s article deal with this for half of his article, but does not seem to be overly critical.  For instance, Tim mentions NRL journalist Roy Masters who wrote a scathing article about the GWS before the preliminary final.

….the Giants are not perceived as representatives of what they cloyingly call “Greater Western Sydney.”  They are representative of the AFL’s drive to gain access to the NSW and Queensland share of the national advertising spend, with the two states contributing nearly 60 per cent……The AFL’s born-to-rule arrogance was obvious when it decided to start a second team in Sydney, assuming Blacktown is the heart of what they call Greater Western Sydney…..The Giants don’t belong to Sydney; they belong to the AFL who has subsidised them over $100m, gifted them No 1 draft choices, salary cap concessions and exclusive access to NSW regions to put them in a position where they can make the grand final after five years.

Tim writes:

Other non-AFL types like Rugby league loyalist Roy Masters have claimed that GWS don’t belong to western Sydney but belong to the AFL. But fortunately for Roy Masters and the scared Victorians, the Bulldogs won a close arm wrestle in western Sydney on Saturday and will be the people’s favourite (well, the Victorian people’s favourite anyway) in the big dance at the MCG.

If we are talking about ‘code wars’ Roy Masters is certainly on the front line, but he seems to get a slap on the wrist in the article.

But then the article turns towards Association Football:

But healthy competition between the codes is one thing, but like in the same sex plebiscite let’s hope it doesn’t end up in bigotry against one code or the other. For instance, soccer, known as football beyond our shores, is the world game but the world game’s greatest commentator Les Murray appreciates Australia’s indigenous game Aussie Rules and the rugby codes as part of Australian society, as much as he loves his own code.

Contrast Les’s tolerance with the authors of Soccernomics Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski who say:

“It was striking how quickly the Socceroos learned EEC football…they beat Uruguay in a play-off to qualify for the World Cup. Suddenly the Melbourne Herald Sun found itself wondering whether Aussie Rules Football could survive as the dominant sport in Australia’s southern states. Already more Australian children played soccer than Aussie Rules and both rugby codes combined…a century from now Aussie Rules might exist only at subsidised folklore festivals.”

Tim Harcourt objects at this statement especially at the last line.  (which admittedly was a silly throw away one).  But it was surprising that Tim seemed more upset at this statement, which to me looks much more mild and less controversial than Roy Master’s talk about ‘AFL born to rule arrogance’.

What also surprised me is that Tim has chosen two foreign authors as an example of ‘code intolerance’ (which probably as Tim say may not be familiar with Australia).  In all the years of reading sport reports I’ve never read any journalist, or player deriding or critising Australian Rules (can’t vouch for Rugby League) while NRL and AFL journalists or associated people have done this with Association football many times.
barassi

Added to this the ‘code war’ is unfortunately is fueled by some irresponsible tabloid journalism  that portrays Association Football support as inherently violent, while  similar incidents in other codes don’t get associated with the sport.

Wherever unintentional or not the semblance to somehow brush over the ‘code war’ between AFL and NRL and somehow targeting the main thrust of the criticism towards two Association Football  can somehow diminish the message.

The other issue is that while I don’t know whether Tim follows Association Football in Australia or the A-League, to me the article seem to come across by primarily an AFL and NRL fan.  Another example is when Tim mentions that clubs like Melbourne, Geelong and Port Adelaide are older than Liverpool and Manchester United, but perhaps not being aware that Association Football is over 130 years old in Australia with the first sustained competition starting in Sydney in 1880 and quickly spreading to other states. 

I (and many who are multi-codal) totally agree with Tim’s sentiment and there is no dispute to me that Tim’s arguments come from a genuine desire to respect each other codes.  As he writes there’s no room for bigotry in sport as in life, we should respect all codes and that we should be true football ‘multiculturalists’ and support all codes or at least respect the rights of others to love their code as they would their culture.

I would add that as with true multiculturalism, there will be peace in the footy wars when all codes are seen as part and parcel of the Australian sporting culture, and not one seen as somehow a foreign import and the other as a ‘true blue’ one somehow reflecting ‘true Australian values’.

 

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