So, now that the other codes have been done and dusted it is time for the A-League to show its stuff, and frankly they couldn’t have scripted a better match than the Melbourne Victory – Sydney FC match on Friday.
Sydney is currently on top of the ladder and Melbourne is second, and this encounter has been dubbed the ‘Super Classico’ of the A-League so that fact that both teams will play for top of the ladder will be an extra incentive. Added to that that Melbourne has enjoyed good attendances and provide plenty of atmosphere all these ingredients are ready to create a great match.
It is unsurprising then that Melbourne Victory has joined with the Victorian State Government to dub this match under the banner of U-NITE.
The press release is as follows:
Victoria’s rich heritage will be on show at a sporting, music and food spectacular later this month when football fans unite as one to celebrate multiculturalism and diversity.
Joining Melbourne Victory players and fans for a kick on Etihad Stadium today, Acting Premier Rob Hulls urged as many Victorians as possible to turn out in force to support Australian football’s biggest rivalry when Melbourne Victory meet Sydney FC at the U-NITE clash on Friday, October 9.
“Victorians are proud of our multicultural heritage and that’s why we are proud to support programs that both promote and strengthen our rich cultural diversity, ” Mr Hulls said. “Football is a passion for so many Victorians, and the success of Melbourne Victory is helping bring diverse communities together to celebrate their passion for the world game.
“While the Round 10 A-League clash between the reigning premiers and Sydney FC promises to be a great sporting spectacle, it’s also a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution of all Victorians and the cultural diversity that makes our State such a great place to live.”
Mr Hulls said the Brumby Labor Government had provided $20,000 funding for the U-NITE themed clash, providing an opportunity for 800 disadvantaged young people from a diverse range of backgrounds to attend the game and get more active and involved in sport.
The U-NITE clash will be held at Etihad Stadium on Friday, October 9 and will feature multicultural carnival entertainment showcasing international music, food and cultures.
“In Victoria we come from more than 200 countries of origin, speak more than 200 languages and dialects and follow almost 110 faiths – this enhances our reputation as a harmonious, vibrant and cohesive community,” Mr Hulls said.
Melbourne Victory Chairman Geoff Lord said the game provided Victoria’s multicultural communities with an opportunity to experience other cultures and support Melbourne Victory.
“Our football club is all about our fans, and we have created a fantastic environment for people to come together and enjoy our game,” Mr Lord said.
“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback in relation to the welcoming atmosphere on offer at our games, so it’s great to be able to celebrate a concept like this in recognising cultural diversity and the unity message.”
Scottish-born Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick said it was also an opportunity for Melbourne Victory fans to celebrate the unique cultural diversity of the club’s players.
“Our fans are the best in the country, but I’m always fascinated to see how eclectic they are, with families, differing ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. I’m very supportive of the U-NITE concept and proud of what Victory has achieved in a short period of time with our fans,” Mr Merrick said.
The sentiment behind this concept is laudable. It is true that Association Football is very diverse amongst people who play it and follow it (the AFL as well to be truthful) and it is good to publicise the match and also the Victorian Government kicking in some money so disadvantaged people can go to the match.
However this highlights for me something about the concept of multiculturalism in Australia. The fact is that despite all this talk about ‘diversity’ and ‘other cultures’ multiculturalism is limited and restricted by the dominant culture (which is anglo/celtic) to what it is seen to be acceptable, and a football match is a very glaring example of that.
In the media release we read about ‘music’ and ‘food’ but when it comes to other aspects of culture that somehow falls outside what are perceived to be ‘safe’ or ‘acceptable’ boundaries then the ‘multiculturalism’ tends to be ditched to the dictum ‘we don’t do these things here’.
Let’s look at this picture of an European stadium.
This type of support is after all an expression of culture of many nations in Europe. Well, the active fans in the ‘North end’ of the stadium at Docklands had to negotiate long and hard before they were allowed to have big flags and a megaphone so that the capo could co-ordinate chants. Why? Probably because the type of organised support that is common in many countries is seen as ‘foreign’ here and therefore ‘suspect’ and dangerous. Look at the picture again, plenty of streamers. These I believe are still ‘banned’ at Etihad Stadium because they are seen as ‘projectiles’ and I have heard an account of a 14 year old girl being ejected because he threw one. Apparently bits of paper and cloth turn fans into rabid violent hooligans.
Before someone inevitably say ‘flare’ I agree that flares aren’t a good idea. That is because they are a flame device and designed for maritime emergencies, and they are dangerous in crowded places and should not be brought into the stadium. But really, can we compare a flare to a bit of paper and a flag?
No, lets all celebrate multiculturalism with nice food, a few costumes and pretty dances. We accept other people’s cultures, as long as you stay within the limits we impose on you.