Why soccer fans jumped on #BallTampering #BallGate #SandpaperGate scandal

If you lived in Australia yesterday and read some of the reactions to the ball tampering scandal by the Australian cricket team it might have thought it was something like the bombing of Pearl Harbour, “A date which will live in infamy”.

For people like me that didn’t grew up with cricket some reactions felt a bit hyperbolic

Soccer fans on twitter were having a field day.  Especially after years of people like Malcolm Conn, the communication manager for Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia taking to twitter to slag soccer at the first opportunity.

Cricket as an expression of ‘Australianess’

The origin of this schadenfreude arises from being told that sports like AFL football and cricket are the ‘true blue’ Australian sports, and that sports like soccer are ‘foreign’ and ‘not Australian’.

When the World Cup comes around and the sport of soccer becomes too prominent to ignore the commentary of ‘we are different’ comes to the fore.  This is an example from Neil Mitchell in 2010.

That awful habit many soccer players have of falling down as though shot when an opponent brushes past. As Jason Akermanis wrote in this newspaper yesterday, it’s a blight on the code.

It’s embarrassing, frustrating, and humiliating. It leads to horrible mistakes that can cost a game when a player is sent off. It’s bad pantomime. It’s cheating. It is unfair and un-Australian.

I bolded the last word because this is the crux of the matter.  Australians see themselves as fair dinkum, a bit rough but fair.  And sport has been probably one area where they see this trait the most.  We might not be able to match the world in many things, but in sport we hold our own.  So sport is a really strong vehicle for identity to ourselves and to the world.  Even a former Socceroo has gone the full Monty in describing cricket as the ‘true national game’.

If you want an example of how cricket has been part of the hagiography of Australia you just have to listen to Paul Kelly’s obsequious song about Bradman.

There is also plenty of superiority imbued in Australian sport commentary, that somehow we are a superior breed of sportspeople because we don’t give up, we take on the odds, but most of all we don’t cheat.  This is what ‘lesser breeds’ of sport people do.  So when we have a blatant cheating action by the team that should by its heritage and traditions represent the highest values of Australian sport the dismay and gnashing of teeth is inevitable.  Cricket, has ‘fallen’ in the category that many place soccer….it’s ‘un-Australian’.

Perhaps this will be a good reality check.  That Australians are sport people like everyone else.  Prone to temptations and that all sport, whether it has been exalted to be the purest form of Australian sporting culture, or one that has been cultivated in migrants’ suburbs near factories in the post war period are all susceptible to human frailties.


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The perils of delving into #sokkahtwitter

I am addicted?  Maybe I am.  When I scroll down my twitter byline I always pick the posts dealing with #aleague or #FFA first.

The life and times of Association Football in Australia have interested me ever since I decided to turn away from my eurosnobbishness and embrace the complicated beast that is ‘soccer’ in this country.

Twitter is fantastic to delve in this stuff.  That because there are so many people, passionate people who participate.  But it is not the place for the fainthearted.

For Modern Football‏ (@ForModernFootbl) made a famous video about the perils of the unwary.

Twitter is awful for subtleties in debating something.

One main issue about twitter is that it is one of the worse platform to discuss issues.  But worse that that, and that is often my case for me, is that validating an opinion, even asking whether it is correct or not is sometimes pounced upon.  It may be a feature of how twitter interaction occur, but it seems to me that some tweeters takes things very personally (and this is not only something that happens on #sokkahtwitter, but throughout twitter as a whole) making me hesitant to interact on certain issues.

Promotion and Relegation for Australia. Too hot to handle.

Ten foot pole

While the whole of #sokkahtwitter can be fraught with danger there are some topics which for me have almost become a no go area.  First and foremost is the promotion and relegation issue.

For me this has been an interesting topic and #Sokkahtwitter has been quite pivotal.  I started as totally against it, to maybe but years down the track to we should look at a model to introduce it.

And this shows why  in certain cases twitter can be useful in changing ideas and perception.  It does offer easy access to a variety of opinion.

But in the case of #sokkahtwitter, promotion and relegation goes to the heart of a major issue that has been present in Association Football in Australia since the post war migration from Europe, when Non English Speaking (NES) migrants established their own clubs.  In Joe Gorman’s fabulous book, Death and Life of  Australian Soccer, it mentions how back in 1950, ‘new Australians’ forming new clubs should be investigated , and since then this issue seems to have been a major rift permeating through Australia’s Association Football history.

The aged old question of soccer and ethnicity

The A-League was devised as a brand new start purposefully eliminating the traditional clubs such as South Melbourne, or Sydney United which were created by  NES groups.  My first memory of this clash was with the  Bradley Report in the 1990’s that blamed the game’s “ethnic image” for the National Soccer League’s lack of penetration.

“In the long term”, Bradley concluded, “the ASF needs to create the image that soccer is not ethnic.” Indeed, according the the report, one of the five major problems facing football was that “it is seen as a game for ethnics.” [1].

The Bradley Report was used by the then Soccer Australia administrators David Hill and George Negus, that not only told clubs to eliminate any ‘ethnicity’ from their names but also created franchised clubs like Perth Glory, Northern Spirit and Carlton as a way to offset ‘ethnic’ clubs.  I remember as a Carlton Soccer Club supporter that the acrimony towards my club by some South Melbourne supporters were very similar to what is given to the A-League now as a whole.  They were seen as a way to ‘de-ethnicise’ the game, the same way as the A-League is seen to do that now.  (and the ridiculous National Club Identity Policy by the FFA has fueled even more resentment)

Some A-League supporters have labelled supporters of traditional clubs who have been excluded from the A-League as ‘bitters’.  As term that I dislike and I disagree with.  These clubs for better or worse have been the lifeblood of Association Football in Australia for 60 years or so.  I can understand the anger they would feel to be excluded because they don’t fit a ‘mainstream ideal’ of what marketers believe is Australia.   But this is a different argument (and one that others have written about before much better than I could).

Promotion and Relegation the new battleground.

Promotion and relegation has become the latest battleground on this issue.  The argument is that any inclusion or exclusion should be based purely on merit, not on the cultural background of a club.  Many proponents of the #ProRelforAUS argue that a club like South Melbourne could bring more interests to the A-League than a Central Coast Mariners or a Wellington Phoenix, and they may be right.

The issue I have is that despite being a promotion and relegation supporter, I still have some questions on how it would work.  What type of model we should adopt that would make the competition sustainable? Does the fact that we may end up with the top tier being dominated by Sydney and Melbourne teams a problem?  Do we think that some club owners would not be interested in investing into a team if risked to be dropped into a lower division?

Unfortunately when I tried to ask these questions the responses I got were not constructive, but angry and that (as a supporter of an A-League team, which makes me suspect in the first place) I was against NES teams joining the A-League which was racist, bigoted etc.

I may not like the responses I get, but I can understand why some tweeters respond the way they do.   The rift and tension between making Association Football ‘mainstream’ according to the Graeme Bradleys of this world and the fact hat inevitably Association Football is a game which is followed and nurtured by many NES background Australians raises many questions.


These issues of identity and exclusion are deeply personal and can cause deeply hurtful events.  That Association Football is not seen as part and parcel of the Australian sport culture by many, and that it seems the FFA is more interested in chasing these people than dyed in the wool Association Football supporters,  amplify this fact.

Perhaps I will just have to let this issue go on twitter, or perhaps find other venues to discuss it.  But mostly it shows how fragmented and divided the world of Association Football is in Australia, from the disputes with Lowy and the FFA to the average fan.

Until there is reconciliation, agreed outcomes and even some compromise, Association Football may be condemned to recycle aged old disputes, and surely twitter won’t do it.


[1] Gorman, J. (2012, December 26). Australian football decides: it’s hip to be ethnic. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from http://www.theroar.com.au/2012/12/27/australian-football-decides-its-hip-to-be-ethnic/

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Simon Hill and Wil Anderson. The sides of two coins.


Twitter is a great place for code wars spot fires.  Football fans know that #Sokkahtwitter can be unforgiving.

This week’s blue started with an article by Simon Hill.

The article was prompted by a joking remark by comedian Peter Helliar (and aided by Waleed Aly who should have known better) about Honduras crime reputation.

Hill writes:

Helliar’s throwaway line (which I’m not going to repeat here), was intended to be a light-hearted dig, but it’s easy to see why the Hondurans – who have been warm and generous hosts – failed to see the funny side. It’s a timely reminder that humour doesn’t always travel well.

In this context, Hill makes some good points.

There is still a cultural misunderstanding among certain elements in Australia, as to just how important these big qualifiers really are. Particularly for countries who showcase themselves through football – a sport which, in this part of the world, comes second only to Catholicism as the national religion.

There remains too, a wilful, almost belligerent ignorance to the opportunities that games such as these present for the promotion of positive Australian values abroad, and how unique football is in providing the extraordinary type of atmosphere you’ll witness through your TV screens on Saturday morning.

Sadly, that’s because the national narrative remains stuck in a parochial loop when it comes to the conversation around sport in general. Into the vacuum comes prejudice, intentional or not, dressed up as humour.

So far so good. I do agree with Simon that the mainstream media, with notable exceptions, may lack that awareness which sees sport in an international setting.  This may be partly because the most popular sports may have no real international dimension (such as aussie rules) or a relatively more limited one (Rugby Union and Cricket).

But then Simon goes on to diss other sports.

If you’re looking for serious analysis, then the mainstream media finds it far easier to talk about the Ashes, discuss the latest AFL scandal, or examine (with faux earnestness), the made up entities that masquerade as nations at the Rugby League World Cup………

And ..

After her exploits at the Tournament of Nations, Kerr (and her Matilda’s teammates) became the hot ticket item for a period of time – yet the conversation soon reverted to type. She was continuously referenced as the “sister of Daniel Kerr”, and more than one reporter suggested her next logical move was into the AFLW.

Er, no. It isn’t actually. Why on earth would Kerr give up shots at the Asian Cup, the Women’s World Cup, and the Olympics (all in the space of the next three years), to take part in a six-week hit and giggle-fest on the suburban fields of Melbourne? Or the international acclaim and money she earns playing professionally in the USA?

To criticise the stereotyping of Honduras as a dangerous place is one thing.  But why Hill needs to then take aim at other codes?  I am not a Rugby fan but Rugby League fans I am sure are enjoying it, and describing the AFLW as a ‘six-week hit and giggle-fest on the suburban fields of Melbourne” is wrong and bordering offensive.

True that when the AFLW came on the scene it seemed like women’s sport did not exist beforehand. And this was amplified here in Melbourne by the strong AFL media, but the dismissing the significance of a Woman’s AFL competition, it as Hill has done, shows a lack of understanding on the personal importance of the AFL to many women.  The daughter of one of my best friends has written a great article about this which very clearly demonstrate that the meaningfulness of the AFLW is much more than a “hit and giggle-fest”.  By doing this Hill is doing the same as soccerphobes.  Imagine if an AFL writer described the W League in this way. #Sokkahtwitter would be rightly in uproar.

Now let’s talk about Wil Anderson.  This is how he reacted to Simon Hill’s article

I quite like Wil Anderson as a comedian.  But I suspect he’s no friend of football.  Apart from portraying football as ‘your sport’, he podcasts about AFL.  In October he joined Triple M’s breakfast show which hosted by that well known soccerphobe Eddie McGuire.   And if we have any doubts about his position we can see this follow up tweet.

The interesting thing here is that Anderson is showing exactly what Simon Hill was writing about.  The criticism of Hilliar joke wasn’t about ‘the sport’ but the fact that it portrayed Honduras as a dangerous place, even more dangerous than ISIS.  The assumption that football, the global sport by excellence, could not ‘survive’ is plainly ridicolous.    Honduras is not the same like joking about South Australia and bodies in a barrel (whether that is tasteless or not). Taking the piss may be fine in Australia but not in other parts of the world and doing does show up the parochialism of some Australians.  Anderson’s position tends to reinforce what Hill was saying that the world offered by a local sport such as AFL is a world “we” can process and understand. The world on our terms.

Ultimately I think it is important criticise the attitude towards football.  It is important to highlight what Hill describes as ‘introspective thinking’ among some in the mainstream media.  But focus on the commentators not on the sports themselves, otherwise it is repeating what we football supporters experience from soccerphobes but in reverse.

Finally I leave the last word to Richard Hinds who summarises the whole thing beautifully.


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New York. Familiarity on steroids.


The view on ‘Top of the Rock’

You know when you look forward to something for such a long time that somehow when you finally get to do it you are afraid it may be a bit of a let down?

I wanted to see New York since I was seven.  That was fifty years ago.  Almost a lifetime. New York didn’t meet my expectations. It exceeded them.

I love cities.  Always did, I was born in one and grew up in one.  When emigrating to Australia my father did the ‘Australian middle class thing’ to live in the suburbs I found it depressing.  The lack of people and noise.  When due to unforeseen circumstances we moved to Melbourne’s inner suburbs near shops, restaurants and people I felt re-born.

This is why I loved New York.  I didn’t feel anxious one bit, quite the opposite, I was incredibly comfortable.   I know this may sound wanky, but as I experienced the city for the first time walking 40th Street to go to the New York Public Library on 5th Ave I could feel the vibrations of the city and it was something I felt at home with.

This is the opposite when I am in the bush where I always feel a sense of mild anxiety.  Knowing there are few or no people around, where if it gets dark there are no lights to make it like day, really feeling like a fish out of water.

Of course it is also different.  But the difference is in the size of the experience.  Is like watching a movie on a laptop, and then watching it on 3D IMAX.  The movie is the same, the action of watching is the same, but the experience of watching it on a huge screen in 3D is like walking in an Australian city and New York.


Even for a city lover like me Times Square was a bit too much

However I did ask myself whether visiting for a couple of weeks and living there would change my perception.  Whether having your senses being constantly stimulated would eventually create a sense of fatigue.  I experienced a bit of this when while waiting for tickets for a Broadway show we entered the St. Malachy Roman Catholic Church and it was such an oasis of peace, quiet and calm that I really welcomed.

One thing for certain.  I want to go back.


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AFL in China.


One of the most febrile twitter ‘groups’ is what has been dubbed ‘sokkahtwitter’.  Anyone who is vaguely familiar with this group knows that is not a place for the fainthearted. Opinions fly back and forth.  But woe anyone who belittle the sport.

Sokkahtwitter has been working in overdrive recently regarding the forthcoming AFL match between Port Adelaide and Gold Coast.

Somehow sometimes I think that we Association Football supporters have a bit of a chip on our shoulder.  Sometimes with good reasons considering the way that the sport has been portrayed by the media in some instances.  Sometimes I think there is also a degree of oversensitiveness.

My attitude towards Code Wars is that (1) it is important to defend the sport from inaccurate and unjustified attacks and (2) it’s also OK if it is done in the Australian spirit of ‘banter’ or ‘taking the piss’.

Usually the code wars thing is left to us punters.  Professional journalists and Association Football players tend to stay with the line ‘there is room for everyone’ which is diplomatic but not really true.

The AFL didn’t arrive at being the number one code in Australia (I am talking TV ratings attendances as a whole here, not participation) by being a shrinking violet, the AFL has been brutal in pushing its advantage in any way it can, and if it is not successful immediately they have the resources to stay for the long haul.

Perhaps this attitude originates from the game itself.  There isn’t really a ‘parking the bus’ strategy in Australian Rules football.  If you’re on top you score again and again until your opponent is buried to the ground.

This attitude means the there is no demarcation where the AFL wants its presence.  It is prepared to ‘invade’ areas that previously were the prerogative  by other sports.  Western Sydney is one of the fastest growing areas in Australia and mainly follows Association Football and Rugby League? No matter. Put a team there.  AFL disregarded woman football since its inception, and now it looks like a winner? Lets start the WAFL.

Probably the thing that irritate the Association Supporters most is that the AFL has such a great network of media allies that the message going out is that ‘Western Sydney was waiting for an AFL Team’ or it seems that before the WAFL was created there was almost no sport avenue for females.  Even sport journalists that cover AFL were taken aback by this message

The issue here is that Association Football is not the major code in Australia.  We know that.  But we have (or had) some advantages.  The popularity of Association Football in Western Sydney, the fact that at least before the WAFL, Association Football was ‘the’ football code to play for females.  And we see this AFL juggernaut not being happy to just be number one in most states, but using its might to be number one everywhere (whether it succeed or not is another matter).

One big advantage that Association Football still has over the AFL is its international dimension.   As Australian Rules Football is quintessentially Australian,  Association Football is probably the most international sport in the world.  We know that on this area the AFL cannot compete, or even try.

So when we heard that the AFL going to China sokkahtwitter knew it couldn’t lose.  Finally the AFL was on a hiding to nothing.  Initially I think most of the comments were about the AFL’s delusion of grandeur.  But then as it happened with Western Sydney and especially the WAFL the media machine started to get going.  The Port Adelaide President and TV Host David Koch hyped the event to the max.

“The AFL will become the first elite foreign competition to play a regular season game for points in China, beating the likes of the NBA, English Premier League, Major League Baseball and NFL. That is a monumental achievement in itself and speaks volumes of the strength of the relationship between our two nations.

“This is so much more significant that just playing a game for premiership points on foreign soil. This is a landmark moment in the development of Australia’s sporting, cultural, political, economic and tourism ties with China.

“The appetite for AFL football in China is even stronger than we could have imagined when Port Adelaide began forging relationships there.”

That sort of hyperbole is to expected from a president of an AFL club that wants to make some coin.  But inevitably this was echoed in sport reports.

I knew that this would have got sokkahtwitter all worked up.  But with this level of hyperbole even Association Football journalists that usually are wary commenting on AFL matters couldn’t stay silent.   Especially when A League clubs have been travelling to far flung parts of Asia for years.  The first to shoot across the bow was Van Magliaccio from the Advertiser.

THE blank faces perhaps told the entire story.

Jiangsu Suning boss Choi Yong-soo and midfielder Xiaobin Zhang looked perplexed when asked if they would follow the first AFL clash for points in China at the weekend.

Port Adelaide hosting the Gold Coast Suns in Shanghai didn’t register a mention from Jiangsu’s duo with the club’s media officer asking if the game being played was in fact rugby…

Choi and Zhang are in Adelaide preparing for the AFC Champions League clash against Adelaide United at Hindmarsh on Tuesday night with the match to be televised live to TV audiences in China, Thailand, Cambodia, the Middle East, South East Asia on the Fox network, Uzbekistan, India and Australia on Fox Sports.

Then stories transpired about players been told not to eat the food, the concern about the pollution and their safety.  Michael Lynch from the Age wrote a piece about this type of reporting.

Judging by the breathless coverage, Port Adelaide and Gold Coast might as well be heading off into outer space.

So arduous is the portrayal of their journey to China for the first AFL game for premiership points played in Asia, it’s hard to draw any other conclusion.

We have had hand-wringing concerns over the air quality in polluted Shanghai, with asthmatic players having been ruled out of contention.

We have had fears expressed over the physical strain of such a fearful long-haul flight – particularly for the Suns, who are travelling in cattle class – and the deleterious effect it will surely have on the finely toned athletes of both clubs.

We have had worries put forward over the quality and kind of food that the players may have to eat, the environment they will encounter and the reception they may get.

Come off it, please.

Either the players are such delicate flowers that their suitability to play such a robust sport as footy must be called into question, or it is yet another example of the AFL world’s tendency to navel gaze, hyper ventilate and over-emphasise even the tiniest event.

Teams from the A-League have, for the past dozen years, routinely travelled to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, Thailand and the Middle East to play competitive matches in a much bigger tournament, the Asian Champions League.

There has been little breathless commentary on the difficulties and challenges their players face, the travails they must endure, to play for their team.

Other accounts also had a bit of fun.

There was so much Sokkahtwitter action that even Ryan McGowan who plays for Association Football team Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng F.C. in the Chinese Super League started to feel embarrassed.

Ultimately if Port Adelaide and the AFL want to play in China it’s their decision and prerogative.

But once they venture outside their comfort zone that we call Australia, with reports about the ‘difficult’ situations they are encountering associated with hyperbole that almost makes out that this match is as important as Whitlam’s visit to China in 1973,  then you have to expect some backlash.

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How twitter made me realise I was wrong.


To paraphrase Pat Benatar ‘Twitter is a battlefield’

It has become from a place where people just twitted things like ‘It’s a nice day today!’ to changing political landscapes and ultimately the favourite method of communication for the current president of the United States.

People have lost jobs over tweets  (hello Scott McIntyre and Catherine Deveny) so while I am addicted there is always the danger that I may tweet something really inappropriate.

Faux pas or stupid statements that once could be limited at the pub or family dinners now can be retweeted and commented worldwide in matters of minutes, all from the comfort of your own phone.

But while twitter can amplify your own belief and prejudices in a social media bubble, in some cases can show you that you were wrong.

A case in point was last Saturday night during the A-League Sydney derby.  I was …ahem..watching it from my computer (wink wink) and following twitter at the same time.  And I saw this.

I don’t know why but I thought that the figure was Donald Trump (which in the light of things makes me look even more stupid) and that the Sydney Western Wanderers RBB were making a (albeit rude) political statement.

Perhaps it was reading both anti-Trumps and football tweets at the same time that made me make that assumption.  The RBB have made lefty statements before. Anyway I tweeted:

As the night went on people tweeted their disapproval.  Maybe they were too sensitive?  But it was a tweeter thread by Anna Harrington made me see something that I should have realised, that whether that figure was Trump or Arnie, the banner had homophobic connotations, and I was wrong in expressing my approval.

I think Anna makes the case much better than I could.  So I will just put her thread here.




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How to position the #Wleague where it belongs


I really wasn’t going to write this post.  The argument of how Association Football is positioned in the sporting landscape has been done to death.  In this blog and also by people much more knowledgeable than myself.

But what prompted me to write this post was this morning’s edition of the ABC’ sport program ‘Offsiders’.

As I have written in this blog before I had to suppress my code wars instincts, and really say that the advent of the Women AFL is great for women’s sport in general. And perhaps think that if you have to invite people on the show you can’t invite a representative from every sport.

However the narrative amongst many football and non football alike is that the Women’s AFL competition has not only overtaken the WLeague in popularity.  A journalist also ventured that it could affect the A-League.

As we football fans are quite hyper sensitive to what we perceive attacks on our code Davutovic copped a lot of flack for that article, especially writing for a newspaper that is perceived to be very pro AFL and anti-football here in Melbourne. But Matildas Melissa Barbieri wrote similar things back in June.

But perhaps the reaction was because it provoked our frustration towards the FFA. A feeling that perhaps they got complacent thinking that summer was football’s patch, and that cricket would lull along with a few tests and one dayers and that we wouldn’t have to worry about footy until March.

But this was foolish in such a competitive sport environment such as Australia.  Cricket wasn’t going to give up its number one summer sport position easily and they hit back with the Big Bash League, while the AFL marketed its women’s competition brilliantly.  And to those in NSW and Queensland who may have been surprised by the success of this competition in Victoria and other Aussie Rules states,  you may not realise how popular aussie rules is among women.  It is no surprise to me that an AFL sponsored competition is such a success.  Writer  Clare Write spoke to the launch of Angela Pippos’ book: Breaking the Mould: Taking a Hammer to Sexism in Sport.  And this passage is telling.

Ange documents many other women who have similarly campaigned — generally quietly, behind the scenes — so that my daughter can not only pull on the guernsey and footy boots like her brother before…..

Thank you for the fact that when I went to the Carlton-Melbourne game at Princes Park last week, I saw a mum say to her young daughter after the match: “You could be a full forward one day, Ella”.

Thank you for the fact that Ella got to sit in a crowd and watch thousands of men and boys, as well as other women and girls, clap and cheer the 32 women slogging it out on the field.

Thank you for the fact that this book will be part of the process of change, so that, as you write, Ella’s “world will be bursting with possibilities” because “stop signs don’t exist there”.

That passage tells a lot why for some of us blokes it seems that the reporting of Women’s AFL feels like they invented women’s sport.

To which Angela replied:

And that’s the nub of the issue.  Many women and young girls  in Victoria and other AFL states love the footy and now they feel that they can play it too and watch other women play it.  This presents a challenge, but it is also an opportunity to give the W-League more prominence.

What can the W-League do? – Differentiation

Go to new markets – expansion in new areas.

When the FFA talks about expansion they talk about going where the fish are, which in the main are capital cities.  That’s understandable because that’s where people live and derbies create interest and TV ratings.

The problem with that is that capital cities is also where other sport mainly operates and the competition is at its fiercest.

Would expansion to regional centres be an answer?  While this argument works for the A-League it is even more relevant for Women’s football.  Let’s take Tasmania.  The AFL has abandoned the idea of placing a team there and as Michael Cockerill has written  this gives a great opportunity for the A League to move into the breach.  But this could be even more for women football.  While the AFLW represent only teams which are in the mainland, imagine a W-League Tasmanian team.  Tasmanian women representing their state in a national competition.  AFLW doesn’t and Super Netball doesn’t.  That would be an opportunity to stand out.  This is already done with Canberra United but I think would get more attention in a state like Tasmania, but also in places like Woolongong for instance.

Highlight W-League as a league of its own….not as a precursor to the men’s

While as I have written before I try to eschew code wars, I recognise that heck, it is a really competitive environment out there.  While us fans can say ‘we like many codes’ or ‘all sports can co-exist’ which is true in our mind, the reality of the market is that resources such as sponsorship money and the best athletes can’t be distributed equally.

A lot of the marketing about the W-League has been that finally the AFL has created an competition for women.  But at this stage is a still a bit of a sideshow before the men competition starts.

This was stated by journalist Georgina Robinson on Offsiders.

So while we talk about equality, the FFA could highlight the fact that the W-League is not a ‘pre-season product’ but a fully fledged separate competition from the men’s.  The FFA should’t be all guns blazing about it, but perhaps mentioning it as a point of difference, especially considering the AFL media has been quite overt in defining the AFLW and a watershed for women’s sport.

Football as the world’s game.

One advantage that football has over other sports and codes in Australia is its international dimension.

I would suspect that only basketball would be on equal terms with football on this aspect.  Netball and cricket are also international sport but the number of countries which are competitive are not as many.

The fact that the Matildas have played so little in Australia is a bit of an indictment.  Not sure with the scheduling etc. but I am sure that a few friendlies in Australia, especially if played in smaller centres would attract attention and if marketed properly would increase the profile of the players and women’s football. The idea of bidding for the 2023 World Cup would be a great start.

It seems that the game is at at a bit of the juncture at the moment.  Expansion, possible promotion relegation down the track, A-League clubs wanting more say.  Let’s bring Women’s football into the mix.  Is too much of an opportunity to miss.

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