Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The bigots launch their attack at last on Australia's bid to host the World Cup

Australia’s bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup may have hit a real stumbling block.

The bigotry and hatred towards the world game amongst some Australians became evident today with various pronouncements by AFL identities, including Andrew Demetriou (the AFL chief executive), Eddie McGuire, Ron Barassi and Kevin Sheedy.

Mike Sheahan, the chief football (AFL, that is) writer of Melbourne’s “Herald Sun”, also joined in the attack and devoted a column (“Hands off our game”) to the unacceptable disruption a World Cup would cause to the AFL competition.

All the old prejudices surfaced when the “Herald Sun” threw the subject open for comment from readers.

Soccer was called a sook’s game and un-Australian by some readers who commented.

It reminded me of the late Johnny Warren’s book, “Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters”, in which he outlined the hatred shown towards the game in the 1960s and 1970s.

It seems not much has changed when it comes to the crunch and AFL turf is supposedly threatened.

Let’s see how long it takes for the rugby community in the northern States to attack.

Demetriou claimed that the AFL may have to abandon not one season, but possibly two, if the MCG was co-opted and reconfigured for the World Cup for several months.

A colour picture of Barassi, squashing a soccer ball with his fingers, adorned the front page of the “Herald Sun”.

Provocative stuff, indeed, especially when the text accompanying the photo stated that Barassi “...put the fear of God into soccer officials, who backed down over plans to kick the AFL off the MCG for an entire season to stage the round-ball World Cup”.

To be fair, the “Herald Sun” tried to balance the story by also running a piece by Ian Royall, a senior journalist with the “Herald Sun” and ‘a dedicated fan of both codes’, according to the paper.

Royall’s article was headlined “Footy fanatics have no real grounds for complaint” and he argued that AFL had nothing to fear and that Australia was in danger of being seen as parochial if the codes did not reach a compromise.

FFA have been quick to try and hose down the brouhaha because they know that if FIFA get wind of the mounting opposition from other codes, Australia’s bid will end up in the rubbish bin at FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

FFA’s Ben Buckley, ironically, a former senior AFL executive, tried to hose down the controversy by stating that he was ‘already working with FIFA to allow the AFL season to continue’.

Part of the problem is FIFA’s insistence that the host nation must run the Confederations Cup the year before a World Cup, and that World Cup venues must be ‘quarantined’ a month before the tournament and that ‘major rival sporting events’ must be halted during the month-long World Cup tournament.

That is easy in countries where football is king, but more difficult in countries such as Australia and the United States of America.

The problems were overcome in 1994 in the USA, but the USA has a far greater population than Australia and has far greater resources and a greater range of facilities.

It will be interesting to see what happens next, after this war of words, but it does not augur well for our chances as FIFA will not be impressed by what happened today.

One can understand the fears of AFL and rugby as the demands will be an impost on those codes.

But, for the sake of Australia's sporting image around the world, let's hope that compromises can be reached sooner rather than later.


Observer said...

This attitude just proves that Australia as a nation , has a long way to go towards proving that it is not prejudice in may areas.
To suggest that Ron Barassi "put the fear of god into ...." What a load of crap.If he did then FFA should stand aside and give it away.Demetriou and his followers are intelligent people arent they ?Do they not realise the benefit to Australia if we were to host a world cup ? Is playing one season in the summer an option for the AFL maybe ?That way the MCG will be available for the BIGGEST SPORTING EVENT IN THE WORLD. What I suggest ,stuff Melbourne ,the MCG , Eddie McGuire and Ron Barassi and build other venues around the country and hold games there.Then watch and here the Victorian Government squeal.
(tongue in cheek as that will not happen unfortunately)

Chuq said...

This week has been a dark week for Australian sport, Id don't think I've seen such a vile, disgusting media orchestrated attack on one sport to this degree before.

Interesting that according to a Herald Sun poll, 45% of readers support canning a whole AFL season in order to host the WC. since the interruption will only be 8 weeks, imagine how much support the bid actually has! Note a similar poll in The Age had 66% supporting cancelling the AFL for a year.

R U Serious Ref said...

I saw on the news this morning that the AFL have now refused to let FFA use Etihad Stadium. Ben Buckley has come out and said if that was to happen then there would be no games in Victoria @ all. Massive Soccer community there so I can see this not working in the AFL's favour.

If the AFL ruin our bid chances I call on all to boycot the AFL for a season to show them that we will not be pushed around. If our bid is ruined I will never attend another AFL game again

Anonymous said...

well hang on a minute - could you imagine if the English Premier League was set to be cancelled for a whole season based on the rugby world cup or hockey world cup for example.

now the examples i've given are rediculously far fetched, but it's the same stink.

we have to respect the fact that this is the homeof the AFL and this is a massive interuption, and that football is not the only sport in this world worth fighting for.

kudos to the AFL for doing all they can, that's their job to do so

the real beef, and this is where the AFL have made this very difficult for everyone concerned is the fac tthat they have buggered off suburban grounds...i.e. princes park. they are so so reliant on the G and Docklands, that this will genuinley make it very difficult for them.

shoes fit all kinds of feet, try walking in them first boys.

Bruno said...

Surely the AFL can come up with a plan if we get the cup in 2022 its bloody 12 years away FFS.

Not a fan on the Demetriou before this

Amazed said...

the reality is that the AFL know a successful bid means enormous growth potential for the round ball game.

They are therefore attempting to derail the bid as they have no other means of fighting the juggernaut that will be unleashed - especially with a decent showing in South Africa in 2010.

Bit disappointed that FFA would use etihad in its promotional material without having an agreement in place to use it if bid is successful.

R U Serious Ref said...

There are more grounds in England to be able to play both Football & Rugby

Anonymous said...

KGV could be an option for Brazil V England tie if it occurs

Richard Bennett said...

I suspect that the articles are media orchestrated by the AFL tabloids such as the herald sun who survive like a parasite off the AFL and vice versa.

The AFL identities quoted are only voicing the normal propoganda to a loaded question. The AFL will no doubt work quietly with the FFA to ensure the bid is not derailed for that reason.

If the other codes administrators do publicly launch any anti world cup campaign I would think the best thing the FFA could do would be to take legal action for financial losses. The figures would make the numptys in the AFL/NRL have an extended porcelain break.

Anonymous said...

afl never fails to make me cringe..their people know its rubbish compared to football..its a great shame that they will damage our chances of hosting

Anonymous said...

Let the AFL have a World Cup and round ball "would stand aside and give it away"
Oh thats right they could only play themselves!!

Krauser said...

what a bunch of shit , the afl shld just get stuffed, if we get the world cup they are screwed and they know it.
Afl world cup, australia v 3 irish guys...

Anonymous said...

The AFL is correct in its response.

This is the FFA's problem, with the full support of Government.

It has nothing to do with the AFL, and has every right to use one of its two grounds to run its season.

For a considered Australian football perspective (if you have the wit to read it), look at:

Brian Young said...

What a load of rubbish from the AFL! All it has to do is resurrect the Western Oval, Brunswick St, Arden Street, Moorabbin, Glenferrie, Victoria Park, the Lake Oval & voilá suburban football again with masses of grounds! Perhaps Bellerive might finally be included! Sorry, the AFL doesn't want that really, no suburban football, it might please some of the fans. What the AFL really wants is to make the oval ball game The World Game; some hope of that, even with its proposed excursion into China.

Soccer Follower said...

Mister Football, you just cannot help yourself, can you? You expect people to read the article and yet you can't help having a dig at soccer followers by saying "...if you have the wit to read it".

You are condescending, patronising and self-centred in the extreme, and bigoted. In being so, you have spoiled what might have been a good article. You can't see the big picture. All you can see is the little world of AFL, which is insignificant when it is compared to FIFA and its members.

The reason AFL has reacted in this manner is because they know that if ever the World Cup comes to this country, it's curtains for AFL (and the rugby codes). You feel threatened, and so you should, because with a lead time of something like a dozen years before the event, most kids will be turning to soccer, where they have a future on the world stage.

The money such an event will bring in to Australia is enormous. And, there will be other benefits in areas such as tourism, trade, sport and diplomatic ties.

Mate, the World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world (even bigger than the Olympics), so be afraid, very afraid.

And note that FIFA normally insists that other significant events in a country hosting the World Cup have to be put on hold during the four weeks of the World Cup. They have said AFL and the rugby codes can continue to play during the World Cup. Why? Because they see these as insignificant events!

Richard Bennett said...

Maybe the AFL and NRL could take their product to the rest of the world if the country was lucky enough to get THE world cup.

But perhaps nobody will be watching. I'd love to see Collingwood versus essendon from berlin with 29 people paying to watch.

Unknown said...

Afl is a nancy boy game for farmers with mullets.... there, I said it

MAYBEN said...

Hi Walter, here is something relating to this topic in the Tasmanian Times.... interesting debate.


Chuq said...

Sorry to revisit an old blog entry, but I just read the other replies - that Tasmanian Times article is by Leonard Colquhoun, a well known soccer-hating letter writer. You can find him in Examiner/Mercury Letters page on occasion as well as comments on the Mercury website (look for "40 Degrees S" or "7248").

The actual article makes reference to another "scare article" on the Herald Sun site, putting the fear into Melburnians that FIFA will "take over" their city. Only when you read the ACTUAL host city agreement do you find that the list of "demands" are exaggerated, misquoted, or in many cases, no different to what would be in (for example) an Olympic host city agreement.

Similarly, the comments about "affecting the AFL season", "a foreign entity having control" and so on, apply equally to the Olympics or Commonwealth Games - could you imagine the HS being publicly against Melbourne bidding for the Olympics? The Commonwealth games made the MCG unavailable to other sports (cricket and AFL) for the better part of three months - more than the nine-week World Cup gap - but I bet we never saw such abuse towards that event as the HS showed a couple of weeks ago.

These people and organisations are against a World Cup for one reason - they work for or are partnered with the AFL in some way, and the AFL sits threatened at the top of the sporting tree in most of Australia - and they want to keep it that way - at any cost.

Walter said...

Hi Chuq, thanks for pointing out to readers all the exaggerations and bigotry in Colquhoun's article. It was also very poorly written and I wouldn't give tuppence for it. That's why I didn't even bother to make reference to the article despite someone mentioning it in their comment on this site.

By the way, congratulations on your piece on the site.

Anonymous said...

Some of these commetns are embarrassing. To call AFL a "nancy boy game" when in our game players roll on the ground clutching at their left shin when they cop a slight touch on their right toe is cringe-worthy.

The commonwealth games only took one oval, not ALL the AFL & NRL top venues around the country. If soccer is such a big thing, why cant we host a world cup in our own purpose built stadiums that the A-League can then continue to use?

The IOC doesnt place the dmeands on a host couuntry FIFA do. They are pig-headed & scared of competition!