There has been quite a discussion about Andrew Jennings and his comments about FIFA. For those who might not know, Jennings is an investigative journalist who has investigated several allegations of bribery within FIFA. He has been quite a campaigner about it as iy can be seen from his website.
Of course after still smoldering from the failure of Australia’s bid to win the World Cup, and not to a traditional football country (or an economic power such as the USA) but Qatar, what Jennings is saying is confirmation that ‘we was robbed’.
Jennings also has gone on Lateline last night ‘ stating that Ben Buckley “is not fit to clean our shoes, who’s just a buffoon. ” And also that Les Murray was part of a ‘1956 Hungarian nexus’, in stating that consultant Peter Hargitay (which Jennings claim is a swindler) was a wonderful person.
The issue for me is not that Jennings has valid claims. There are serious indications that the process of assigning the World Cup is corrupt. And I also have serious reservations on whether Ben Buckley is the right person to head the FFA, considering that in many instances he has shown little understanding of the culture of football (I wouldn’t go as far as calling him a ‘buffoon’. I have no idea on what basis Jennings can say that).
However I don’t share the enthusiasm of some fans, and commentators on twitter and facebook about him. He has made statements which were very negative about the code in Australia.
Compiling the bids flaws, Jennings also said that the A-League’s well-publicised struggles and Australia’s mass irreverence for football were always going to be insurmountable stumbling blocks for the Australian bid to climb.
Quite simply, he says, Australia is not a football nation.
“In Australia football is a minority sport and they’ve had terrible problems trying to keep the A-League going,” he said.
“It’s in such a mess and that’s the fault of the fans, nobody else is to blame. Australians prefer other sports, it’s a minority sport. Whether it should ever have gone professional is questionable. It’s not a football nation.
When I made this point in twitter and on a football forum some people disagreed with me. One commentator twitted: ” I’ve been disparaging about Oz football. So I’m an enemy too? Jennings was pretty much right about the Oz bid.” But I think that misses the point.
Yes, Jennings probably is right about the bid, and FIFA itself. However his point is to me that ‘Australia should not bother with football’ and basically we should not have bid (or even been considered if you follow that line of argument) because ‘we are not a football nation’. That commentator that responded to my tweet has made very negative comments about the situation of football in this country, but he makes those comments because he wants the code to be better. Jennings basically says that we shouldn’t even bother with football because we are not a ‘football nation’. So while some of us cheers his comments against FIFA, his view of our football is the same as those AFL/NRL loving bogans that state that football is a foreign game in Australia.
The question is, does Jennings argue his point because he believes that Australia was hard done by and deserved more? Or is he basically constructing his argument that the bid was a waste of money in the first place because we ‘are not a football nation?’ I think the latter. If I had to choose between him and ‘1956 Hungarian Nexus’ Les Murray about who has the interest of football in Australia I know who I would go for.
Frankly I put Jennings’ comments about Australia in the same basket as those of Oasis bad boy, Noel Gallagher’s .
Gallagher, renowned for his controversial outbursts, said he did not have a great deal of respect for Australians playing soccer.
“Stick to the Aussie Rules and the tennis and the cricket and the rugby, you are good at that,” he told AAP from the United Kingdom.
“Football is the game of the intelligentsia and you are sh*t at it.
“You will never win anything so give it up.”
Different tones, same message.