Footy/Soccer: Geelong stadium suggestion fuels my anger over World Cup

By Susie Giese

In a true parliamentary smoke-and-mirrors display, the State Government has once more failed to solve the FIFA World Cup issue, shooting themself in the foot in the process. The recent bid to upgrade Skilled Stadium to a 44,000-seater square pitch by no means solves the issue of a stymied AFL season.

After State Government announced plans late last year to upgrade the MCG for its appeal to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018, newspapers Australia-wide received an influx of complaints from disgruntled footy and rugby fans. Australia is a nation divided by two sports: AFL and NRL, but nowhere does soccer come into that equation. It is a minority sport in Australia, despite its title of “world football”.

Undoubtedly there is a considerable soccer following in Australia, and the bid to host the Soccer World Cup which would boost the local economy and put Geelong on the map like never before should receive a lot of support from the sport-loving nation. Indeed, there would be a lot of support if the tournament came without the price-tag of a two-month AFL/NRL suspension.

There is a condition existing in the FIFA rules and regulations for hosting the World Cup: no major sporting events or competitions can take place in the city which hosts the soccer.

This has been the major issue at hand, standing in the way of complete support for the World Cup. Australian fans would love to see the event come to Australia – provided they can still have their AFL.

A two-month AFL break could see a reduced season, a season of two seasons (with form and momentum altering alarmingly between the two parts) and could even be detrimental to the health and fitness of AFL stars.

That “one day in September” would become “that one day in October” or even November.

There have even been calls for AFL to simply be abandoned for the entire year.

The State Government failed to address this issue last year, saying games could still be held at Etihad Stadium and Skilled Stadium. Teams like North Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs would have some of their home games moved to Skilled Stadium to make up for the MCG being unavailable.

Brumby’s government failed to realise that the issue was not one of availability of grounds, but of FIFA’s pre-condition effectively banning AFL for the months of June and July 2018.

At the time the issue first arose, Football Federation Australia announced they were hopeful of working out an agreement with FIFA to allow local codes to continue.

There has been no new developments announced in regards to the negotiation, but this morning AFL fans woke to the news that Skilled Stadium is now part of the World Cup bid.

The very stadium that the government named to pick up some of the slack for AFL is now also unavailable, and there is no sign that FIFA are warming up to the idea of the World Cup and AFL coexisting.

If the Geelong were to host the World Cup, it would see them take a place on the world stage as never before, and would greatly boost local tourism and economy. This is fantastic news for the Geelong region, and the government hopes that will satisfy Victorians.

But still, there is no happy solution to the AFL issue in sight. Not only is AFL still hanging in the balance, but NRL and ARU also have no news of what would happen to them should Australia win its bid to host the FIFA World Cup.

Furthermore, the issue would not be simply contained to Season 2018. The FIFA Confederations Cup is played a year before the World Cup, in the same country. Two consecutive seasons of Australian sports would be interrupted, causing all sorts of headaches with sponsors and membership.

The move could see struggling clubs sent broke.

With all this doom and gloom for our national codes, it is easy to become unnecessarily worried. Keep in mind: Australia is quite unlikely to host the Soccer World Cup. It is likely to go to a European or Asian nation, where soccer is the national code.

For fans of AFL, NRL and ARU, all we can do is hope.

About Susie Giese

Born into the worship of the mighty Hoops, Susie has turned to adopting a Zen-like state during games in recent years to preserve her heart. The Cats of 2015 have the ol' ticker a-racing, though!


  1. John Butler says


    I reckon you’re right about the slim chances of getting the Big Show. Which makes all the passion about this issue kinda redundant (though entertaining).

    But if the unlikely were to occur, part of the dilemma would be the fact that they’ve just built a brand spanking new soccer ground which doesn’t have the required capacity. Shades of Docklands when it was built.

  2. Hahaha, John. My thoughts exactly. When I reread the article, I got to the end and thought: Well, that was a waste of time.

    It’s just been something that’s been eating away at me for a while, and the thought of the government laying a finger on my beloved Kardinia park just pushed me over the edge.

    And I know what you mean about the new stadium. You’d think, if they’ve been serious about this bid for any amount of time, it would have come in to their planning. Apparently not. The square stadium does look kind of funky though :-)

  3. Danielle says

    Hey Susie, great piece. :)
    i have to admit when i first heard this on the radio i thought, shouldnt this money be better spent on our healthcare system. Then i saw a photo of what it would look like if they did the makeover and i was totally against it. Yes its bigger and more modern but i feel like they are knocking out a piece of history…
    Ever hear the saying ‘dont fix something thats not broken?’
    Skilled Stadium is not broken.

  4. Skilled Stadium IS broken, no team other than Geelong can win there.

    Good article Susie, i saw this morning and i thought i saw light at the end of a tunnel for the AFL in 2018/2022. But i have to think to myself: By 2018/2022, Myself and the other teenagers on the Almanac will be at least 23 years old by then, so we will all have families or girlfriends, something to take our mind off a season of no AFL.

  5. Danni, my thoughts exactly. Skilled Stadium is a country ground, it still feels less corporate than the MCG and Etihad. I saw the picture. It’d be a nice stadium – if it wasn’t Skilled Stadium.

    And Josh, bitter, bitter, bitter. Keep in mind, your Roos were one of the last teams to beat us there, so clearly other teams CAN win. And a stadium upgrade won’t be adding a roof or changing the proportions of the ground, so you’d still feel the same pain of loss. Just in front of an even bigger Geelong-friendly ground ;-)

  6. Damian Watson says

    Great read Susie,

    In terms of the development of Skilled Stadium it does seem unlikely that the ground will be converted into a soccer pitch it has always had a suburban atmosphere and it wouldn’t suit a World Cup match.

    However in regards to the AFL season I believe that we should sacrifice one single AFL season for the World Cup if the option arises.This would benefit the country entirely (certainly from a marketing point of view) and to be honest I don’t think that the AFL season can last with the absence of the competition in it’s prime months throughout the winter.

    Of course this is only hypothetical, the chances of Austtralia gaining the World Cup rights are fairly slim.

  7. Damian,

    I am all for the World Cup, even if it meant slight disruptions to footy. But there are a few NRL clubs that are seriously fearful they’ll go broke and have to close up operation. The same might happen to some AFL clubs; the Doggies, Melbourne and North Melbourne namely.

    There are calls for FFA (football federation Australia) to compensate the leagues up to $100 million dollars, but they’ll find a way to aboid any compensation, and the government will take FFA’s side.

  8. avoid*

  9. Damian Watson says

    I can’t understand why the Government provide more funding for these struggling clubs? they are delving into this bid with tooth and nail so surely they can provide funding to keep those clubs afloat.

    However if that is the sacrifice we have to make then the AFL have to go along with the bid. Remember the AFL have tried to merge, relocate or extinguish these clubs in the past.

  10. Richard Naco says

    The joke is that all this lovely infrastructure will never be used for its designated purpose. Australia won’t be hosting the World Cup any time soon – how many times has Uncle Sepp promised us a go for a given World Cup only to blatter our chances away once the bigger money of entrenched self-interests has kicked in? And I for one don’t regret that for a second, especially as the smoke & mirrors party tricks of the A League are starting to fade away, revealing the dismally under supported, under financed B Grade that lies beneath the media hype.

    FIFA’s demand that no other national sporting seasons be allowed to play during the World Cup is the ultimate in bullying, and has no place in any liberal democratic society. The corrupt circus of the World Cup bidding process is an utter travesty, and quite frankly, we as a nation need to grow up and appreciate that our sense of self worth should never be tied to a race to out bribe any other nominees in order to host this, or any other, overbloated charade.

    One of the things I love about AFL is that its success is not measured by the kind of self important, over rated, jingoistic orgy that so blights soccer. May it remain ever so.

  11. Here, here, Richard!

    Do you know what’s sad about this? That strange group of Australians I tend to disown – those with no vested interest in sports of any kind – are supporting this bid. They like the sound of “good for the economy”. And there is an alarming amount of them.

    What’s sad about this is that they are lending their voice to the minority of soccer fanatics, so the Socceroos, who I respect on the same level I respect the Equitorial Guinean swim team, think they having a growing support base. Australia as a whole could not care less. All this media coverage is propping them up on a pedestal.

    Shame that reality is bound and determined to pull that pedestal from underneath them.

  12. Equatorial*

  13. Richard Naco says

    Don’t lose any sleep over it, Susie. Kardinia Park will be dollied up to be what we know it to be: the Palais of Dreams. And just as Sepp’s all but promised the 2018 WC to Europe (bets on Germany), the 2022 will go to China, the 2026 to North (or South) America, and the 2030 to South (or North) America.

    We won’t have to worry about it interupting the inevitable triumph of the master sport for any forseeable time to come.

  14. As someone who has never been able to get a standing room ticket to Kardinia Park, let alone a seat I would love to see Kardinia Park expanded. For this reason alone I am sure there would be demand in the community for a bigger stadium. I was also wondering, has anybody seen a survey undertaken by one of the pollsters assessing the community opinion about bringing the world cup here? and subsequently, whether the community would accept shortened or non-existent NRL & AFL seasons? I would love to see some hard numbers.

    You make an excellent point Susie about the Confederations Cup, but does anybody know if that carries the same competitive restrictions as the World Cup? Richard has every reason to be skeptical, Blatter has let us down before. As for NRL teams potentially dying, there are a number of sick clubs in the competition already. Any number of changes may kill them off. For example, I know of one club that will likely struggle to survive if the government removes access to the peppercorn lease it has on the stadium.

    An ace in the sleeve for the FFA is Peter Hargitay whose company has prepared the bid book for the successful country for the past 6 or 7 winners (sorry I can’t find the exact number). Subsequently, I will not be surprised if we are awarded the 2022 World Cup. Shopuld that occur, we will then have 11 years to sort out these problems.

  15. Should*

    P.S. We really need an edit option on this thing :)

  16. Martin Reeves says

    Richard – re post # 10

    I’ve never known jingoism to be associated with football (soccer) in Australia, let alone blighting the game.

    I would associate jingoism with Australian sports such as cricket, swimming and Davis Cup tennis.

    Soccer has been referred to (in this comments section) as a minority in this country and is still derided as ‘wogball’ by many (though not in this comments section) and dismissed as a foreign sport.

    Hardly a jingoistic orgy that you claim.

  17. Dave Nadel says

    I don’t think Richard was referring to Australian jingoism in the case of soccer.

  18. Ian Syson says

    What I like about this site Susie is that it’s a footy site that adopts a pluralist and tolerant attitude towards all codes of football and other sports.

    Comments like this tend away from pluralism and tolerance:

    “What’s sad about this is that they are lending their voice to the minority of soccer fanatics, so the Socceroos, who I respect on the same level I respect the Equitorial Guinean swim team, think they having a growing support base. Australia as a whole could not care less. All this media coverage is propping them up on a pedestal.”

    The emotive language and exaggeration are not particularly productive in this instance.

    Moreover, I find it absurd that a footy supporter would complain about the idea of saturation coverage.

    Nor does it help that your statement is not really based in fact.

  19. I apologise, Ian. That comment was completely out of line (it was also, in part, tongue-in-cheek). I was in a bit of a funk the other day, and my temper sees me speak and, in this case, write articles without stepping back and assessing the situation first.

    Now that I have calmed down, I’ll be honest: I do respect the Socceroos fully. Soccer is undervalued in Australia, and their success is working wonders on the Australian following. I’m a fair weather supporter – I can only make the effort to watch the “big” games – but I do not neglect the sport altogether.

    It would be a wonderful and unexpected thing if Australia did host the World Cup. But the selfish, predominant part of me is upset at the prospect of a ruined AFL season.

    But I am ever hopeful a compromise can be found and that the bid goes forward with full support from all Australians, regardless of code-affiliation.

  20. Kristian says

    Susie, this is terrible stuff. Really.

    Would you whinge like this if it was the Olympics we were talking about? I assume not (but I could be wrong), in which case you must realise the WC is as big, if not bigger, anywhere else in the world?

    And, don’t forget that the AFL season was shifted (albeit slightly) in 2000 for the NSW-held Olympics.

    Now, I am a massive AFL fan. Have been since I was a tacker. Played juniors as a kid, and still pay an exorbitant amount every year to be a member of my team (and then pay an even more exorbitant amount for a light beer at the games).

    However, I also love “soccer”. I constantly argue with friends and family about the relative merits of football vs AFL, but it’s simple – they are equally awesome sports.

    So, the prospect of a WC here leaves me salivating. The memory of such a brilliant event here would linger well after it’s over, and AFL/NRL will continue.

    But, let’s look at your “concerns”:
    1. “A two-month AFL break could see a reduced season” – What’s the problem? 26 weeks is bloated bullsh!t anyway (thus the reason whoever’s leading the ladder after Round 10 is no certainty to do well come September.

    2. “… a season of two seasons (with form and momentum altering alarmingly between the two parts)” – Great! More finals!. And less North Melbourne vs Richmond playing in Albury/Wodonga or similar.

    3. “…and could even be detrimental to the health and fitness of AFL stars” – How? By giving them a rest?

    4. “That ‘one day in September’ would become ‘that one day in October’ or even November” – See 1994 Grand Final. Awesome day, that. Remember it well…

    5. “Confederations Cup”. Minor tournament. Easily workable around other events. 2009 had 16 matches, held on 9 playing days (only 4 of those were weekend days). No problem. Just think of it like a national stadium tour by Rod Stewart, or John Farnham, or any of those baby-boomer cash-grabs. In fact, Farnsy might be doing a farewell tour in 2022…

    6. “The move could see struggling clubs sent broke” – Well, those clubs (and their leagues) do a fine job of sending themselves broke by themselves, without any help/hindrance from football. There needs to be cull in AFL anyway, but that’s a whole other hobby horse…

    So, just relax. It’s not “doom and gloom”. A compromise will be worked out (provided we do win the bid), as soon as Demetriou quits his usual spotlight-grabbing.

    And then I can maybe take my future kids to a World Cup Final. Now, that’s a wonderful thought…

  21. Thanks for taking the time to post your opinion, Kristian :-)

    You make excellent points.

    I am sorry for my “whinging” earlier on. I am someone who struggles to embrace change, and I hate to think of Skilled Stadium becoming another Etihad Stadium. But I suppose it’s already sort of heading that way as it is.

    And thank-you for the point about the confederation cup – my research was very one-sided for this piece, but keep in mind, 99% of the articles that have been published in Melbourne have been doom-and-gloom. As, I guess, is to be expected from most media outlets – AFL is the lifeblood of the business down here.

    I didn’t realise that it was only a minor affair, I had only read about it being a potential interruption in 2017/2021. I guess some reporters were as ill-informed as I.

    Again, I apologise to anyone I may have got offside with my comments. Really.

  22. Tim Ivins says

    ‘I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it’.

    Please don’t apologise Susie, the Footy Almanac to me is a place where we can speak our mind and share our opinions. Sometimes people will not agree with these and will counter with arguments of their own, as many of us have here. The mark of a good writer and indeed a good person is how we respond to new information as it is presented to us. We only know what we know, if we never share an opinion in an environment like this we can never broaden our knowledge or understanding of an issue.

    Keep on writing, I look forward to reading your next piece.

  23. Dave Nadel says


    not only should you not apologise but you should also not allow yourself to be bullied by wannabees who suck up to power.

    Kristian says “Would you whinge like this if it was the Olympics we were talking about? I assume not (but I could be wrong), in which case you must realise the WC is as big, if not bigger, anywhere else in the world?”

    Oh, so it’s a world event and little parochial Aussies who happen to have a sport which is as old as soccer (codified four years before Association Football) and which is as important to us as soccer is to Brazillians and Italians should immediately stand aside in awe. Jeff Kennett used the same logic towards people who didn’t want to lose their homes for a “big” Grand Prix and it was bullsh!t then, too.

    ““A two-month AFL break could see a reduced season” – What’s the problem? 26 weeks is bloated bullsh!t anyway” (Kristian)
    The AFL season is substantially shorter than the EPL but that’s alright because it’s played in sophisticated international centres like Birmingham and Hull!

    “…and could even be detrimental to the health and fitness of AFL stars” – How? By giving them a rest? – No Kristian, by forcing them to play too many games over a short period. Footy is far more physically demanding than soccer and seems to require a limit of one game per week.

    “That ‘one day in September’ would become ‘that one day in October’ or even November” – See 1994 Grand Final. Awesome day, that. Remember it well…” – I wouldn’t mind one day in October – Collingwood wins premierships in October – but there are other sports that require grounds and media coverage in October and November. Sorry, Kristian I forgot, the Melbourne Cup isn’t a huge international event and Cricket isn’t played in Russia, Germany or Argentina so its only parochial anyway.

    ““The move could see struggling clubs sent broke” – Well, those clubs (and their leagues) do a fine job of sending themselves broke by themselves, without any help/hindrance from football. There needs to be cull in AFL anyway, but that’s a whole other hobby horse…” There is a level where that is true – obviously AFL clubs should learn from the management skills of Portsmouth and Leeds soccer clubs – but actually the survival of football clubs and their fans is a far more important issue then whether you and your kids see a World Cup Soccer match. You can always buy a ticket to South Africa or Brazil to see a World Cup game but once North Melbourne or the Doggies go they won’t ever be coming back – ask Fitzroy supporters.

    “A compromise will be worked out (provided we do win the bid), as soon as Demetriou quits his usual spotlight-grabbing.”

    Demetriou is doing his job supporting the survival of his code. At least he isn’t an international criminal like some of the key figures connected to the World Game.

    To avoid being attacked by people I respect like Ian Syson, I should point out that I like soccer, I would like to see a World Cup Final in Australia so long as it does not seriously damage Aussie Rules and Rugby League and I respect most soccer fans. Some of them however need to stop thinking that “bigger” is always better and culturally superior.

  24. Ian Syson says

    Dave, here’s a curve ball. Unlike you I would not like to see a world cup in Australia — until we are ready for it. I don’t think we could house it adequately in appropriate stadiums. Nor do I think we deserve it because our soccer bodies have not run the game well enough and our clubs are still either franchises, fiefdoms or jokes. In some cases they are all three. And nor do I think that we should hold it if we have to sabotage cultural practices that are important to our sense of who we are. If this means no world cup in Australia in my lifetime then so be it.

    But we’re going to have to get over the myth that footy was codified in 1858/9. A list of rules that are strangely similar to those that form the basis of soccer in 1863 do not a code make. Association is the key to codification. The FA was formed in 1863. The VFA was formed in 1877.

    Is it really the case that “footy is far more physically demanding than soccer”? It is more of a collision sport for sure but do footy players work harder?

    OK soccer has some big-time criminals. You still hankering after the days when a real gangster ran Collingwood?

  25. Dave Nadel says

    Ian, I suspect the debate over a world cup in Australia is irrelevant because I suspect FIFA is aware that it will make a lot more money (out of Television rights etc.) if it holds the 2022 Cup in most of the other contending countries.

    I don’t agree with you that codification depends on Association. Surely it is the other way round. Once you have a set of rules you can form a competition because you know all games will be played under similar conditions. The fact that the FA formed the same year that they agreed on a set of rules and that the VFA took eighteen years probably tells you more about socio-economic conditions in Melbourne compared to London in the 1860s than anything about codification.

    Is footy far more physically demanding than soccer? I have always assumed so, simply because British Premier League clubs seem to play two matches a week, whereas AFL clubs, even in the era of full professionalism, seem to be unable to do this without major negative consequences. I assumed this was because of the effect of physical clashes, but an alternative explanation may be that soccer clubs have longer playing lists and smaller teams.

    I don’t doubt that that Aussie Rules has criminals – you don’t have to go back to John Wren..the only reason that John Elliot didn’t do time over the charges against him in the 90s was that the NCA botched the case. I would suggest that the AFL’s villains are mostly connected with clubs rather than national and international organisations but that probably just reflects the smaller canvas on which the AFL operates.

    My comments about criminals were provoked by Kristian’s gratuitous Demetriou bashing. There are plenty of things I disagree with Demetriou about – Western Sydney vs Tasmania for example – but I think that he is the only senior administrator, in any code, who fully gets it about race, gender and multiculturalism. He is light years ahead of any of his predecessors at the AFL/VFL and if Kristian thinks that Demetriou’s response to the World Cup controversies is simply headline seeking then he doesn’t understand much about sports organisation.

  26. Ian Syson says

    I agree about Demetriou’s social progressiveness. But I’m sure soccer administrators have multiculturalism down a little better — actual multiculturalism not assimilation! The AFL’s multiculturalism is assimilationist and largely show over substance.

    Perhaps one of the reasons footy players are more knackered is because their game lasts a little longer (30 mins isn’t it?). Whenever EPL players play a cup tie that goes into extra time there’s often a minor fitness crisis at the club in subsequent games.

    The codification thing is something I want to do some writing on. If 1858 rules are seen as the origin of footy then I think the Sheffield Rules (1857) can be taken to be the origin of soccer. Soccer as played in the 1870s was much closer to the Sheffield Rules than footy of the 1870s was to the 1858 rules.

    Until 1877 clubs playing in Melbourne generally argued about which rules should be adopted on any given day. There was no common code. Some codes may have been more dominant than others but it took association to lock in the idea of identical rules. At least that’s what I get from Hess and Stewart.

    The Melbourne rules are just too different from what footy becomes and too similar to what soccer was in 1863 to see the 1858 rules as anything but a primordial nudge along the way to the eventual individuation of footy — which I take to be the VFA’s decision to allow players to pick the ball up from the ground. Prior to that clubs had very different policies and practices on that issue.

  27. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Dave and Syso,

    why do you blokes get so seduced by the history wars and codification ideal? Footy just happens to be a game that evolves more regularly than Soccer. New rules mean new things to talk about. This fuels the sociolectic element necessary to keep the game fresh and interesting. NFL FOOTBALL in the states does this too and fans seem to respond by maintaining engagement.

    The problem with Soccer in this country and the US is that a league will not feature the game played at the highest level by the best players in the foreseeable future. Basketball has had similar problems. The time zone also makes Australia unattractive for broadcasters, unlike the USA IN 1994. The US is also surrounded by soccer mad nations in a similar time zone.

    I would go see the World Cup and would be happy to suspend my AFL patronage for 6 weeks. No big deal personally. However, lets not get caught up in code wars when the real issue is the poor quality of the current product.

    And Susie, If you really believe in something don’t apologise. I may not agree with everything you say but I can relate to your indifference to a code that you have little passion for. You got a good healthy debate happening. Keep punching!

  28. Tim, Dave and Phil – thank you very much, you’ve made me feel so much better. I was feeling pretty rotten about this piece. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not proud of it, but I was indeed expressing my opinion – at that point in time. Opinions can be temporary, they can change. This one has.

    I was ticked off, but now I am calm. Less indignant.

    I definitely wouldn’t say I’m indifferent to soccer, Phil. I mean, there’s a huge part of me that can’t justify the idea of a sport that can play out for 90 minutes without a score, but soccer is still a great sport. I don’t see me ever getting passionate about it, but I do like soccer.

    Aussie Rules make up a big part of my life, though. It is my passion and was the only thing that could cheer me up during a particularly tough year in my life (sorry to get all emo on you). I would definitely love to see the World Cup in Australia one day, but I revolt at the idea of it spoiling any of the Australian codes for the fans.

    And thank-you for the back-up, Dave. You understood the points I was trying to make :-D Especially about sending the clubs broke.

    Yes, there are clubs that continue to demonstrate terrible management skills, in the AFL and, from what I understand, in the NRL. I often think they receive too much funding, but for soccer to be the thing that sends them broke…

    Like you said, there will be more soccer. But once a club goes, it’s gone forever. Merger only seems to exist for a few years, then the club whose name remains seems to take over. Look at Brisbane – the Fitzroy Lion isn’t even part of the logo anymore! They’ve got the Brisbane Lion now.

  29. Ian Syson says

    Susie, when you say Australian codes, which ones do you mean? Do you mean footy and the Rugby codes? If so, why are RL and RU Australian whereas soccer isn’t?

    Soccer was played in Australia at least 29 years before RL even existed and it has a continuous history here from that time.

  30. Ian Syson says

    Phil, Yes footy evolves all the time but does so with a constant reference to the spirit of origins.

  31. Ian, I refer to them as Australian codes because they are the major sport in Australian states/territories. AFL claims WA, SA, Vic and Tas, while RL/RU reigns in NSW and Qld.

    Soccer, aka true/world football, is played everywhere in Australia, but I’m sure you’ll find that netball and basketball are played in every state too, with considerable followings. But still nobody calls them Australian sports.

  32. Phil Dimitriadis says

    Ok Syso,

    now that your referring to spirits I know its time for me to go to bed! Why does footy evolve more particularly with rule changes than say soccer or league? Every sport has evolved mainly because of technology, but footy relies a great deal on constant rule changes to keep it vibrant.

  33. Ian Syson says

    Susie, surely that definition is simply a relative one. Whatever is dominant at the time is Australian. By that definition McDonald’s becomes an Australian restaurant. You might be interested to know that your defintion puts you at odds with Martin Flanagan who is very clear that Rugby is British game.

    I would have thought that netball, soccer and basketball were all far more genuinely popular than Rugby Union for example. Having grown up in North Queensland I know that RU is still a pretty marginal game promoted by socially powerful people. Club Rugby is a joke. The Super (whatever number they’re up to) is well marketed and gets a decent theatre audience and tests are always well-attended. But soccer is streets ahead of RU in most departments, especially participation.

  34. Susie, like Phil said, please don’t apologise. It’s all good, healthy debate.

    Somewhere along the line here, I think my point got lost. And that point was not that soccer is better or older or richer or more criminal than AFL, netball or curling or whatever. It is that all these sports are equally great, and surely the local sports which get their massive audiences all year, every year, can wear a little inconvenience for a few weeks for a once-in-a-generation event.

    I could go on to dispute Dave’s individual responses to my points, but that would go on for ever.

    However, I will stand my ground on Demetriou. Stating that he’s better than the other administrators on issues of race etc is not only irrelevant to this argument, but is like saying that Jamie Turner is a better Premiership player than Michael Gayfer…

    There was nothing but unhelpful self-interest in Demetriou’s Henny-Pennying press conferences when it was first announced that there might be an impact to the AFL season for a WC. Unfortunately, the media took that bait and ran with it.


    (Bully, Wannabee and Suck-Up since 1978)

  35. Re the likelihood of Australia winning the world cup bid, the rules as they are now (and yes, FIFA is a law unto itself and could arbitrarily change them if they saw fit) is that they will decide the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 Cups this year. Therefore, only those countries now bidding have a chance in 2022 (provided the rules aren’t changed)
    Australia, Netherlands/Belgium, Russia, Japan, United States, Spain/Portugal and England are bidding for both 2018 and 2022 while Qatar, South Korea and Indonesia are bidding for 2022 only.
    Expectation is that 2018 will go to Europe which means 2022 should go to another continent – if it goes to Asia, Aus stands a good chance against the other Asian candidates, but USA is a strong candidate as another continent.
    FIFA are less likely to follow the IOC approach of sharing it around and ignore the fact it has not been to Australia and more likely to follow the dollars and development potential – which means USA has a definite advantage.

  36. Dave Nadel says

    This could go on forever Kristian because you are wrong on Demetriou. I assume the Turner/Gayfer comment is aimed at saying that none of the administrators are very good on social questions so being the best of a bad lot doesn’t matter. The example libels Mickey Gayfer but that is an argument for another thread.

    The AFL has done better on gender issues than any other Australian code (The AFL as an administration, not individual players and clubs) and that is largely due to Demetriou who learned a bit from his first wife (a feminist academic). The AFL’s position on indigenous players is principally due to the courage of people like Michael Long (especially), Nicky Winmar and other indigenous players but Andy D has taken up the issues and done much better than his Rugby League counterparts. Ian S is probably right that Soccer has the best grasp on multiculturalism but Demetriou has pushed hard and publically on the issue in the AFL.

    As you point out, Kristian, that was not what you were atacking Demetriou for. However his comments about World Cup disruption were not just “unhelpful self-interest” and “Henny-Pennying press conferences” The FIFA rules require all grounds to be available for a month before the Cup and all other major sports to be suspended for a month either side of the World Cup. This could have meant AFL (and NRL) being suspended for at least three and maybe four weeks. The competition could survive a one month midseason break for the World Cup but a three or four month break would destroy the season and Demetriou had a responsibility to complain.

    When the World Cup was held in the USA FIFA did not have the nerve to ask that Major League Baseball suspend its activities during the World Cup and had it done so the MLB Commissioners would have ignored them. Because Soccer can be played on Football and Rugby grounds the situation is a little different to the USA, but only a little.

    Demetriou has only asked that disruption to the AFL be minimal. I think he should insist that there be no disruption at all except for making the MCG available for a few key matches like the Final. FIFA has no right to make rules about any game except its own!

  37. Ian, you caught me out. I completely neglected, for a moment, that Rubgy was not Australian – I know. Criminal negligence. But yes, that is far too loose and incorrect a definition. I retract my dubbing of NRL an “Australian Code”. How about “Codes predominantly loved by the majority of Australians”? Or is that again incorrect?

    And I know what you mean about RU – when I first started watching NRL, I remember being disappointed. It reminded me a bit too much of gridiron, I was young and yet to learn the difference between League and Union.

    Perhaps you can enlighten me as to why Union is so far behind… I’ve always found it so much more aesthetically pleasing. But that could be the Aussie Rules fan in me talking.

  38. “FIFA has no right to make rules about any game except its own!” Here, here, Dave!

    That is what gets me most of all. FIFA is acting like it is the governing body on all sports the world over with that rule, and I find that incredibly rude.

    What could be the reason for it, I wonder?

    My initial thought is the potential of drawing crowds away from the World Cup, but I highly doubt the other sports would. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world – there are more than enough people to sell out every game, and plenty more to give it TV ratings. A fair chunk of people who’d choose to attend or watch the footy over soccer would not tune in to the World Cup anyway. But again, this is just my indignant interpretation.

    Does anyone know the reason FIFA introduced this rule? Any speculation if you don’t?

  39. Susie
    Its called the “Golden Rule” – them that’s got the gold make the rules. In this case the gold being the rights to hold the World Cup. And with 10 countries bidding, its definitely a seller’s market.

  40. Ian Syson says

    Susie, my opinion is that if a game is played here, especially in large numbers, it is Australian.

    Re Rugbies: aside from the differences in rules and the way the game is played the main difference between RL and RU is one of class. Historically RL is a working class game and Rugby Union is a private school game. In my opinion, RL is democratic and RU is elitist, having been an amateur game for most of its history. RU has very little popular week-by-week support in this country, except in pockets, whereas RL is dominant in those great swathes of Western Sydney, western NSW and most of Queensland. Things have shifted a little over recent times but I think the fundamental divisions remain.

    Dave is being hysterical by the way. They don’t want to make rules for footy. In handing out the World Cup FIFA has certain requirements. If we don’t like those requirements it’s simply a matter of telling them to stuff their world cup up their clacker. Now who gets to speak for ‘us’ is an interesting question because if it’s Rudd the Dud he won’t be doing that.

  41. Dave Nadel says


    Effectively they do make the rules for other sports. FIFA’s position is that no other major sporting event should take place while the World Cup is on and this includes some weeks before the actual event. The IOC makes the same conditions for the Olympics. Now if this was uniformly enforced then your comments about requirements would be correct.

    It is not uniformly enforced. Major League Baseball continued throughout the 1994 World Cup. I think this was because FIFA did not ask MLB to go into recess but it is also possible that they did and MLB told them to get stuffed. Baseball is a lot bigger than Soccer in the US, certainly at the professional level. FIFA needed the US more than the US needed the World Cup, so FIFA ignored its own requirements. The fact that they do not seem to be prepared to do this for AFL and NRL means that they are effectively making rules or at least conditions for other sports.

  42. But Dave, this is all at the level of gossip and scuttlebutt. How do you know that FIFA is playing hard ball here? Demetriou had said they are; Buckley has said they aren’t. Demetriou says they won’t talk to him; Buckley has 14 diary dates which suggest they have chatted. They’re both professional liars so we can believe neither.

    In any case we won’t get the WC so this is all speculation and unnecessarily hot air.

    On another topic. What are the pros and cons of Buckley serving his apprenticeship for Demetriou’s job at the FFA? Con: he’ll lose touch with footy; pro: he’ll gain experience in global matters?

  43. Dave Nadel says

    I agree that we won’t get the World Cup and if certain soccer fans would refrain from rousing my ire by referring Aussie Rules and all its works as parochial and trivial I probably wouldn’t write another word on the subject.

    I think Buckley is a real possibility as a successor for Demetriou but it is possible that if he takes too high a profile in support of the FFA in conflict with the AFL he may alienate some of the leading Club officials whose support he would need. I am thinking here about conflicts relating to team expansions (both codes) in the Gold Coast and Western Sydney as much as World Cup venue conflicts.

    Demetriou’s own apprenticeship was served with the Players’ Association. I actually thought Benny Gale was possibly heading the same direction. However Gale has now become CEO at Richmond, which will either destroy him as it has most of his recent predecessors or give him a job for life if he can win them their first flag in 30 years.

    Anderson (Demetriou’s deputy) will not ascend to Demetriou’s position, if for no other reason, because he hasn’t played Aussie Rules at a high enough level. I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see James Hird as a future CEO of the AFL. He clearly has the management skills and training and is liked by people who don’t actually support Essendon. However he may be making to much money with his own Sports Management and Research company.

  44. FIFA requires each bidding country to sign contracts which stipulate the various requirements including no clash events. Its up to the bidding country to sort out how it can comply otherwise it risks being sued by FIFA. It even goes to another level in that all competition and training venues must sign a contract with FIFA allowing FIFA to basically do what it wants, with no guarantee of anything back to the venue manager. If the venue does not sign the contract it cannot be included in the bid documents. This is the heart of the problem with the major venues in that they can’t sign the contract because of existing contractual commitments to the other codes.

  45. Demetriou’s final nail in the coffin for the WC bid — thank god! From today’s media. If this attitude prevails then the WC will definitely not be happening in Victoria:

    “Over the coming years we’ll also have to confront a changing sporting landscape in Australia, we have to be ready for the possibility of the World Cup,” he said.

    “The AFL has always said we are happy to accommodate major sporting events, we have a track record to prove it.

    “But we do not – and will not – accept second place for Australian football.

    “We welcome other sports and major events, but we won’t allow seven million fans to be deprived of Australia’s indigenous game, nor put at risk the jobs of so many associated with our game.”

  46. Richard Naco says


  47. Martin Reeves says

    Note the timing one day out from the A-League grand final.

  48. Ian Syson says

    Martin, I can’t imagine Demetriou being so cynical.

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