There was a smell of desperation in some of our National Papers today…
Two sports commentators – both long famous for their fear and loathing of the round ball – saw fit to write articles attacking football. Again.
First cab off the rank was noted anti-roundhead, Peter FitzSimons, lambasting the Prime Minister for agreeing to fund a bid for the Women’s World Cup.
In fact, FitzSimons makes a validish point. We should be very careful sending good money after bad into the black hole of FIFA. And the way Moya Dodd was recently shafted tells you that FIFA is a long way from entirely cleaning up its act.
However, FitzSimons is a little disingenuous referring to the “up to $5 million dollars” that might be expended – not least as it starts with a paltry $1 million to work up the bid, and then maybe another $4 million depending how the first million works out.
These are paltry sums so why is Fitzy making the point so strongly? A "nonsense and an obvious waste of money,” he calls it, and begs the Prime Minister to desist.
That’s not what the majority of football fans think. They do remember the 2022 disaster, but they also remember the Asian Cup – the best Asian Cup ever held (according to plenty of good judges). Why wouldn’t the Women’s World Cup be just as (if not more) successful? The Asian Cup was also a FIFA tournament, which is why Sepp Blatter was so loudly booed at the final – including by me – so they’re not always about money grubbing criminals doing favours for their mates (of course, that’s all in the past now).
Fitzy ignores this simple truth to go frothing at the mouth about how stupid it would be to provide the nearly 300,000 women and girls playing football with a showcase for their game – a much larger number than the men playing rugby league and several times the men playing rugby. Don’t these people have a vote Fitzy? Don’t they pay taxes and deserve to have a few bob thrown in the pot to just explore the possibility of committing to a full on bid for the game they love?
FitzSimon’s hysterical response to the idea, I believe, only reveals his ongoing fear of waking the Sleeping Giant (pretty sure I heard it yawn just now Pete!). In trying to bash women’s football back into Pandora’s Box, he even invokes the AFL, suggesting that all women’s sports are trying to catch up to the “hugely successful women’s comp”. I’ll call the WAFL a success when people start actually paying money to attend games. Right now the WAFL is a major loss leader which the AFL rushed forward to address the vast numbers of women playing football – women who will eventually be mothers and play a key role in the selection of sports played by their daughters and sons.
Hosting the World Cup would be absolutely brilliant for the girls growing up playing football and also for their families and the wider football community. It would also be good for Australia’s reputation as a holder of major events and would be a boost to the economy. And rated number 8 in the world right now, you’d have to say we’d be a fair chance of winning it in our own backyard – especially with a few years of lead in. But those years of galvanizing girls and women into the world game are exactly what the other codes fear and will try to prevent both politically and through the media.
That leads me to the second unwelcome voice today, Patrick Smith, another eggball enthusiast writing in The Oz decided to have a go at the oldest of chestnuts – whether football could ever be number one in this country.
Who exactly was trying to say it would be, Patrick? I wrote an article recently arguing how pointless the pursuit of Number One would be, but I sincerely doubt he was responding to me!
In fact, he wrapped his argument up in slightly different clobber, suggesting that football will never be number one because we’ll never be any good at it. The evidence is our ranking (48) and the fact that our second team was beaten the other night 4 – 0 by Brazil, ranked number one. He also suggests that we’ll never be any good because our population is too small and all the best athletes are in AFL, rugby league and cricket.
I couldn’t be bothered responding to most of Smith’s arguments, but I will just remind him that there are over 1.2 million registered football players in Australia – more than the other three codes combined. There are plenty of countries FAR better than us at football with just a fraction of those numbers actually playing. We have four times as many registered footballers as the entire population of Iceland who recently knocked England out of the Euros! So, excellent research and logic Patrick.
The most interesting aspect of Smith’s article is just the fact he felt compelled to write such a tired old piece that is little more than (yet another) dog whistle to those who fear the rise of football.
Perhaps because the Socceroos are about to play on the world stage at the Confederations Cup (something an AFL team will never do) and, like a true patriot, Patrick Smith, and no doubt Peter FitzSimons, are desperately hoping we fail.I couldn’t care less if football is Number One, and I sincerely doubt any genuine football fan loses sleep over being Number One.
And that smell of desperation I mentioned earlier?
Seems to me that some people are talking a load of Number Two right now.
Adrian’s latest book Political Football: Lawrie McKinna’s Dangerous Truth is in the shops right now or available through Booktopia. Adrian also wrote Mr Cleansheets.