The future of football in Australia belongs to places like Bossley Park, not Zurich.

Predictably there is plenty of gnashing of teeth amongst football fans for not getting the World Cup (and worse getting only one vote) and predictably there is chortling from the anti-soccer brigade.

Getting a World Cup was always going to be a tough ask, but this result gives us a reality check that despite being one of the best sporting nations in the world this counts for naught in the brutal profit driven world of football.

Inevitably also there are the usual comments about the future of the game and so on.  So let’s examine some of them.

 

We missed out on a new dawn for Australian Football.

Yes, if we got the World Cup it would have been a great boost for the sport and the nation, but I don’t think a month of world cup football will revolutionise the sporting culture of Australia where it will become the number one sport code as some have thought it would have done.  Like the Olympics there will be lots of movement and interest but what we have to see is when they all go home is what legacy it will leave after five years. Yes it will assist greately but it won’t be the be all end all. I can’t remember exactly but after the USA got the World Cup didn’t the domestic competition go in the doldrums? And it was building the sport from the ground up that made the healthy competition that the MLS is today.

If we don’t get the World Cup the game is f*&ked in Australia

This is perhaps the most annoying comment for me. Firstly it relies on one decision for the whole future of the sport which is patently ridiculous.  It seems that we have these ‘landmarks’ in football and if we fail well everything is lost and we may as well pack up the shop. I find this annoying because it basically it echoes what the enemies of the game wants us to believe (because they want to believe themselves).

I remember when after the Iran match when were so close in qualifying for the World Cup and again we failed,  many thought that we may as pack up an go home. The game WAS in dire circumstances then. Soccer Australia was benignly incompetent, the NSL was ignored by anyone and football was seen by most as an irrelevant sport played by ethnics. And what do we have now? We have been to two World Cups (and performed well in one and not disgraced in the other). Instead of being in the joke of a Confederation that is Oceania we are in a real one where we can play in the Asian Cup and the Asian Champions League. If I was told ten years ago that this would happen I would have said that it was pure fantasy.

Yes the A-League has issues, but they have to be addressed (a point that I will come back to later).  The A-league has good things going for it as well, some teams do attract crowds, not to the AFL level but I think that’s OK.

I remember reading that ‘If we don’t get to the World Cup the game is f$#ed’ then we got there and it was ‘if we don’t perform well at the World Cup the game is f$#ed’ and now is ‘We didn’t get the World Cup so the game is F%$ed” PLEASE!

I am sure that if we did get the World Cup it would have been ‘If we don’t perform well as a hosting nation in the World Cup the game is F%$ed’. There will always be something for the pessimists and of course the anti-football brigade.

A sugar hit, not a long term fix.

A tweet from Grant Reynolds sum it up well.

The game won’t suddenly die, but it can be left to rot. That’s the real danger. WC is a sugar hit, not a long term fix.

And that’s exactly right.  Maybe the FFA being inhabited by many who don’t have a tradition of the game coming from other codes (Frank Lowy honourable exception) got attracted by the glitz and glamour of  the World Cup not noticing that in some aspects of their management of the A-League they have (borrowing a term from another sport) dropped the ball.

I think it concentrated too much on the bid instead of building the A-League over the past two years. They hope that winning the bid would instantaneously fix crowd attendances, exposure etc. Perhaps it may do so for a while. But I do think that not publicising the A-League properly is potentially more damaging than not getting the World Cup.   I think perhaps they have concentrated too much on the World Cup to the detriment of the local game. The lack of any noticeable advertising campaign at the start of this season an example.  I think from today the FFA will need to refocus on building the game slowly and painstakingly without the aid of a World Cup.  Get the community involved and ensure that teams have an attachment to their communities rather than manufactured creations of magnates.  Connect to the great number of people who love and play the game but for a variety of reasons don’t follow the A-League.    The places to do this are the heartlands of football in Australia, Bossley Park, Keilor or Glynde.   Harder perhaps, but ultimately more sustainable and permanent.

Me?  I am looking forward to tonight’s match between Melbourne Victory and the in  form top of the league Brisbane Roar at AAMI Park.  I decided to go in comfort and buy an A Reserve ticket.  Sold out.

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