Tag Archives: World Cup

The World Cup has started. But will I will be able to watch it in the tropics?

If there are two sporting events that I wait with anticipation these are the Olympics and of course the World Cup.

The World Cup has started, however there is a major disruption to my month of football bonanza.  Ever since I came and live in Australia more than three decades ago, I wanted to go and visit the wonders of tropical Queensland.  The Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Forest the islands etc.  This year is the year where a combination of more favourable financial conditions together with the fact that our son is old enough to appreciate a holiday this trip could happen.  No worries, I thought.  We’ll go in September when the Worl Cup will be done and dusted.  However, a bit of research and some advice from people who lived up there revealed that September may be too humid and wet.  The best time to visit Far North Queensland is in the middle of winter, when the humidity is relatively low, but temperatures are nevertheless in the high 20’s.  This had to be done to coincide with the school holidays which all meant that the trip will be right smang bang the middle of the World Cup.  Well, I will be able to see the first two matches where Australia is involved, and if all the experts are right Australia will be out of the Cup by then.  Also I am relying to the fact that Cairns etc. are touristy places with plenty of European backpackers and perhaps I will be able to access at some point.

I will be happy to report about my trip on this very blog.  This of course depends if I can get access to the internet.  We will see.

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AFL snookers FFA beautifully (or why we will not get the World Cup)

Outrage this morning amongst Association Football supporters in Australia about an article in today’s Age.

AUSTRALIA’S bid to host the World Cup finals in 2018 or 2022 was almost abandoned 12 days before the bid book was due to be submitted in Switzerland because of ”outrageous” demands by the AFL, a source close to the bid has told The Age.

As talks continued ahead of the May 14 deadline for confirming the application, the source, who asked not to be named, said that Football Federation Australia and the federal government had virtually given up on getting an agreement and were prepared to shelve the bid.

”It got to the point where it didn’t seem there was much point, and the federal government had agreed with the FFA that we might not go on with the bid,” he said. ”There were some outrageous demands from left field by the AFL.”

That shouldn’t come much as a surprise.  I think that both the FFA and the Government underestimated the voraciousness of the AFL to protect its patch no matter what.

Maybe the FFA and the Government would have thought that even the AFL would have seen having the World Cup as a good thing for Australia as a whole.  But the AFL didn’t become the most successful code in Australia by accident.  I’m sure there would have been plenty of strategy meetings at AFL house and I think they have been pretty successful.

A World Cup in Australia would have created plenty of headaches in AFL land.  It wouldn’t have dented its popularity by any stretch of the imagination, but undoubtedly would have given Association Football a major boost.

So while publicly the AFL ‘supported’ the bid I am sure that a strategy to minimise its success or at least get most out of it would have been devised, and it seems that it is game set and match to the AFL.

It appears that all the brouhaha about stadia has seriously dented our bid, as stated by this article in The Age.

HE cross-code wrangle over stadiums for the FIFA World Cup has put the boot into Australia’s joint 2018-2022 bid.That is according to a leading football industry website – World Football Insider – which has produced a damning assessment of Football Federation Australia’s recent handling of the bid.

After rating Australia as the second favourite behind England for hosting rights in February, WFI’s latest World Cup survey ranked it seventh due to recent stadium dramas. ”Australia loses marks after a difficult few months during which the bid team has struggled to win domestic support and sort out its stadia plans, raising serious concerns about the country’s ability to deliver a World Cup,” said WFI Editor Mark Bisson.

So ‘well done AFL’.  While my temptation is to immediately label them as a bunch of selfish bastards I would be wrong to do so.  The fact is that to get to present a bid, the government had to give so many gifts to the AFL (massive sums  for upgrades to Adelaide Oval, Skilled Stadium and for the development of a new stadium in Perth) so that in the unlikely case that we host the world cup the AFL will gain as well.  So it’s a win win situation.

As Scoop states in the Melbourne Victory Forum, Demetriou/AFL have played the FFA to a tee.  Showed up the FFA as a pack of rank amateurs.

The AFL did what any self interested organisation in a competitive market would do.  Demetriou is just trying to protect his organisation first and foremost which is his job.  If he bent over to the FFA the AFL clubs and their 1000s of employees would be calling for his head

An agreement with the AFL and the NRL  should have been locked in years ago before the FFA even launched a bid, instead of the FFA naively thinking they could use Etihad Stadium without even asking the AFL first.

When in December the bid fails many Association Football fans will blame the AFL.  But let’s remember that the FFA will have to bear most of the blame.

I hope this will be a wake up call to the FFA.

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Stop Press! Footy saved from evil soccer juggernaut!

Hallelujah! Footy is saved!!!

That headline says a lot about how the Herald Sun, and I expect lots of mainstream media are covering the story. Great outcome for all concerned? This may mean that the FFA can go to FIFA and say that everyone now had come to an agreement and Australia can have a great World Cup?

No. The issue here is that ‘our’ footy is ‘saved’ from an evil external threat. No hiding it really, even the headline on the online version of the article says ‘Footy saved from World Cup threat

This is not an ‘smell the fear’ argument. The AFL is perfectly entitled as a business to ensure that its interests are safeguarded and they would be remiss if they didn’t do so.

What I find annoying is the coverage of the Herald Sun, that instead of looking at the positive aspect of how this arrangement could potentially help the bid, and how great it would be to have the biggest sporting event in the world it went for the ‘world cup as a threat to our footy’ line.

Some of you may dismiss the Herald Sun as a bogon newspaper. However I would say that the HS is still one of the most popular paper in Australia, and the fact that they feel that they have to pander to this ‘football as alien threat’ line is very disappointing.

UPDATE: Chug, analyse what the article actually said on his blog.

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The AFL shows its true colours

The Association Football vs Australian Rules Football war about the World cup bid is certainly hotting up, at least here in Victoria.

Yesterday we had the Herald Sun front page trumpeting the fact that ‘Soccer caves in to footy people power’. Today in the front page of The Age, we have a story which claims that Australia’s bid for the soccer World Cup is in danger of being derailed after AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou declared Etihad Stadium off limits.

Front Page of The Age 9/12/09

As usual in these things there is lots of heat an little light. Apart from the moronic take of the Herald-Sun, there has been more rational debate in some quarters. One such article was again in today’s Age by Dan Silkstone.

Parts of his article:

Demetriou and Buckley are close. They played together at North Melbourne, they worked side by side at the AFL. Buckley was best man when Demetriou married and sent a congratulatory text message to the AFL chief executive three weeks ago when his child was born.

When Buckley is in Melbourne he almost always catches up with his friend and former boss. They speak on the phone often.

That is what makes the central claim of this week’s storm – that the AFL and its clubs have not been properly consulted about what is needed for the bid – so hard to accept.

For Demetriou, frustration has been growing about the vagueness of the FFA’s requirements and the poor level of communication. The AFL feels disrespected and Demetriou does not like it.

The league’s clubs, rightly, want to know how this World Cup bid might affect them. The FFA’s bid team cannot yet answer those questions. The FFA says it has kept other codes fully informed of the complex venue situation, which continues to unfold. ”They have known everything we knew as soon as we knew it,” Buckley said yesterday.

The AFL says bid leaders have spent more time travelling the world, schmoozing FIFA delegates and foreign journalists than talking to codes and stadiums in their own country. The FFA responded by releasing details from Buckley’s diary that show he met the AFL 14 times since last April to discuss the bid………

The MCG won’t be out of action for 16 weeks as Demetriou suggested but the AFL is deeply suspicious of the four to six-week timeframe the FFA says it needs. One insider yesterday called it ”complete bullshit”. All in all, though, the league would cop a 10-week loss of the MCG without too much complaint. The real issue, and the real battleground, is Etihad Stadium…….

Demetriou says not: ”This is not the AFL beating up on soccer or being unsupportive of the World Cup. We’ve got a great track record with Olympics and Commonwealth Games.”

But soccer hits Australian rules as a direct competitor much harder than the Commonwealth Games or Olympics. Imagine the impact of a winning Australian bid. Eight to 10 years of media attention, an almost irresistible carrot for juniors to take up the sport. A boost for soccer at the very time the AFL is hoping to sell its media rights for a princely $1 billion.

A rival sport continuing to tread the corridors of power while politicians, corporate Australia and junior participants queue up to get involved.

Who wouldn’t protect themselves from that?

I always am wary of the easy tempation of falling into the paranoid ‘the AFL is plotting to get us’ type of argument. But reading above (and Dan Silkstone is not a solely a football writer) I am sort of wondering why Andrew Demetriou has gone all guns blaring about this. He could have approached Buckley privately and make his views known. And it seems that Buckley has tried to keep the AFL up to date about the bid. There is a possibility that the FFA is also not yet sure about the details.

I think that the AFL has every right to protect its product and make sure that they are not disadvantaged in the eventuality (which has to be recognised it is still pretty remote) that Australia does have a World Cup. However this public outburst seems to me gives credit to the Silkstone’s view in his conclusion. That the AFL basically doesn’t want the World Cup, and this is a Howard style wolf whistle strategy to scuttle the bid.

While the AFL makes all the right noises about the ‘AFL not beating up on soccer or being unsupportive of the World Cup’ it unleashes a sentiment about ‘us and them’ that I discussed in my previous post. Who is to say that any of this dissent may sway some FIFA delegate? Or that maybe the new Federal Opposition may not be as enthusiastic about the bid as Malcolm Turnbull was when he was leader?

The ‘Us and Them’ is a well worn card. Demetriou went on radio uttering hyperboles such as that some AFL clubs would not survive due to the AFL season being cancelled due to the unavailability of the MCG and similar venues for 16 weeks, when as we can see from Silkstone’s article this is a furphy.

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley moved quickly to refute Demetriou’s remarks, stating that stadiums like the MCG would be required for up to eight weeks. That’s significantly fewer than 16. This type of scaremongering is nothing new from the AFL, or its mates in the press. As Warwick Hadfield said in the sport segment of this morning’s Radio National Breakfast

What we are really seeing here is just how cosy the relationship between the sport media and the AFL and the NRL is to get all these beat ups on the front pages and how far down the pecking order soccer writers really are in major newspapers. There are quite sensible comment pieces in the last few days and they can be found somewhere near the racing details.

Buckley looked frustrated in that media conference. Welcome to our world Ben.

Update: Ben Buckley letter to all football supporters about the bid (the ad banners on top of the page are because I loaded the page on a free site host – they are not from the FFA).

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When the chips are down, it’s still ‘wogball’

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us How did I feel when I saw this in the front of the Herald Sun? A sense of anger, frustration and ultimately despondency. Of course we can see the Herald Sun as a bogan paper. But I think it goes much deeper than that. I have said for quite some time that I don’t want football to be treated as something ‘special’, I would like it to be treated as any other sport, but inevitably football is portrayed by the sections of the populist media as an intruder when it is perceived to threaten the dominant culture.

The debate about football vs soccer is an example of this. I think that it doesn’t matter how the game is called. Soccer is fine by me. However I do object when it is used to differentiate the code from other ‘footballs’. The insistence of calling the game ‘soccer’ instead of football which seems to be reserved for Australian Rules in Melbourne and Rugby League in Sydney demonstrate the desire of separating the round ball code as something different. The separateness of the game is also shown when the World Cup comes around when parts of the mainstream media treat football like a ‘new thing’ that Australians have just discovered, ignoring the fact that Australians, albeit not necessarily from the dominant anglo-celtic ancestries, have been playing the game for more than a century.

I have already discussed in other posts the way that football is seen as an influence changing the ‘Australian way of life’ by the right and a globalised ‘Mc Donald’ juggernaut on the left. While football remains a marginalised sport followed by a relatively small population then it is safe and tolerated, but once it gets some power then the knives are out.

The position is clear. Football is ‘soccer’ and has to stay in its place as the third code. A foreign import mainly followed by migrants. The AFL and the NRL have nothing to fear from the A-League that while it will grow (and it will encounter some setbacks, as it is normal) it will not threaten their dominance. The fear is from the huge international dimension of the game and its associated power in economic terms.

It is bad enough to have the Word Cup attracting some attention, the possibility of having the most watched event in the world in Australia, and worse the dominant codes playing the unaccustomed role of accommodating football and playing second fiddle is imaginable. We have already had articles bemoaning the government ‘wasting’ money on a code ‘Australians do not follow’ by funding the bid. It is important to stress that the AFL is perfectly entitled to protect its patch. And it also important to recognise that people who are AFL fans have the right to enjoy their sport with the minimum disruption and the possibility that the sport they enjoy may not be able to play for a period of time has to be taken into account.

But the fact that this debate has turned into ‘Aussie Rules fair dinkum ‘our game’ versus ‘Soccer foreign intruder, foreign game’ is very disappointing. I thought we progressed from this.

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Australia’s chances for the World Cup.

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