Tag Archives: FIFA World Cup

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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Is the World Cup time zone such a disadvantage in Australia?

I think only the most outlandish optimist believes that Australia is a certainty to host the World Cup.  Not because Australia couldn’t do it. Quite the opposite. Australia is such a sport loving country which is wealthy with great infrastructure and organisational ability that would host a fantastic World Cup.  The problem is the tyranny of distance which has been part and parcel of Australia’s conditions ever since the British occupation.

So while the FIFA official evaluation report for Australia is overwhelmingly positive, our ‘distance’  is highlighted a major negative note  occurs in section 4.17 – Media and marketing rights (p. 23).

FIFA generates a substantial part of its revenues through TV income (via sales of its media rights), which is mainly driven by TV ratings and related values in each part of the world.  The TV ratings are affected by what time of the day the match is shown live in each territory of the world.  In the past (and the same will still apply to the 2014 FIFA World CupTM), TV income from the world’s markets has not been evenly spread:  Europe still generates the largest share.  As TV income is closely linked to TV ratings for the FIFA World CupTM (in turn, advertising spend is dependent on TV ratings and advertising rates differ from one country to another), there is a risk of a reduction in such income should the FIFA World CupTM be hosted in Australia (assuming a similar pattern of kick-off times as for previous FIFA World CupsTM).  Australia’s time zones are UTC+10, UTC+9.5 and UTC+8, which means that matches would be shown very early in the day from a European TV perspective.  In the Americas, the matches would be live in the middle of the night or very early in the morning in the eastern zones and late at night or in the middle of the night in the western time zones.  In Europe and the Americas, audiences are generally lower in the middle of the night or earlier in the day compared to prime time or closer to prime time, and consequently, media companies in both continental zones would have more difficulty exploiting the media rights in order to recuperate their investments, which may negatively impact FIFA’s income.

That is true.  We may be the envy of the world when it comes to weather and nice beaches but when I mention Australia and the World Cup in Italian football forums inevitably the time zone issue comes up.
But is it really that bad?  As the evaluation report states it assume a similar pattern of kick-off times as for previous FIFA World Cups.  So let’s speculate when match times can be on and what would be the times in Central Europe (Summer time) and in the countries with the biggest populations in South America, Argentina and Brazil.

Australia EST Europe CEST South America (ART & BRT)
1 pm 5 am midnight
6 pm 10 am 5 am
8.30 pm 12.30 pm 7.30 am

HTML Tables

 

There is no denying that you can’t totally satisfy both Europe and the Americas on times.  A match at 1 pm will mean that an Italian would have a early rise and an Argentinian would go to bed late.  However that may be the only real problematic time area.  Once we move in the afternoon things may get easier.  At 6 an European would be able to watch the game over breakfast/morning tea (remember that it will be summer there) while it would be South America to have an early rise.

The issue is almost redundant when we go at night time matches.  Lunch for Europe and breakfast for South America.  And remember that the most important matches at the end of the tournament are played at night.

Of course for us Australians watching sport in the middle of the night is normal, so we can’t scoff at Europeans and South Americans when they complain when faced with a match at sparrow’s fart as they are not used to it.  And then it is not all great for all time zones either. In Brazil if they play a match at 8:30 pm it will be 1:30 am in Rome, and that’s not that convenient for Europeans either.

And of course I didn’t mention the big advantage that has already being put forward by the Australian bid.  That Sydney and Melbourne are only two hours difference from Beijing and one hour from Tokyo, and that’s not an insignificant audience.

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