Note: Originally Published on June 14th 2017
Football – commonly referred to as the beautiful game. A game of skill, possession, and tactics. There are many a talented footballer out there from countries such as Spain, England, France, Argentina, and the list goes on. All of these international footballers have prospective talent, and many show great skill in what they do and how they play. There are some players who just amaze and leave in awe anyone who watches them play. For example, the masterful likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Coaches/Managers in a range of different countries also show great tactical precision, alike to those of coaches such as the renowned former coach of English Premier League side Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson. There are also former players who have turned to coaching after their initial retirement from playing football. The likes of former FC Barcelona coach Luis Enrique and current Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane have both played and coached for their respective clubs. So international football summed up in one word, brilliant.
And then there’s Australian football. Now of course the Aussies aren’t all that bad, but they do have a lot of work to do in order to get things right. The Aussies just aren’t as skilful as many of their counterparts the world over. Now that’s not to say that all the players that Australia produces are terrible. No, there are actually a few decent players in the mix. We have a recently turned English Premier League star in Aaron Mooy, who has previously played with teams like the Western Sydney Wanderers
and Melbourne City, and the well known Tim Cahill, who has played for teams like Chelsea and Everton in the Premier League before doing a stint in China and then returning home to play for Melbourne City in the A-league. The problem: Tim Cahill is getting to an age where his football career may be coming to an end. And the question really is: who is going to take his spot in the Socceroos?
And so Australia needs an answer to the question of who will play for us in a side that actually has a chance in the coveted FIFA World Cup. The Socceroos have played in the regions of Oceania, too easy a feat for them, and then Asia, in which they have won the Asian Cup, but are now somewhat struggling to get through the World Cup Qualifiers. And Australia needs to produce home-grown top-quality footballers in order to outperform other international sides. We were very much subject to this lesson last night, in which the Socceroos suffered a 4-0 loss to the spectacular Brazilian international side, who put one in the back of our net after playing for only 12 seconds. They showed great skill, and Australian football should aspire to become like that of other great international sides, such as the Spanish and the Argentinians. These countries produce the highest quality players, who go on to be highly sought after by clubs in league-based competitions the world over. And our Australians need to keep up.
The Australian Football League, known as the A-League, is not particularly one of the greatest the world has seen. It consists of ten teams, nine of which are from around Australia, consisting of 2 teams from Sydney, 2 from Melbourne, as well as 1 from Newcastle, the Central Coast, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth, as well as a New Zealand based team in the Wellington Phoenix. The League basically goes like this: 10 teams, 24 rounds, Finals Series, top 2 teams as well as a third will go to play in the Asian Champions League, happy days, right? Wrong. It’s really not good enough. The A-League is one of, if not THE only League in the world football to have a salary cap. Why? Because of one man: David Gallop. Gallop may sound familiar because he was once the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Rugby League (NRL). He possessed this job for 10 years or thereabouts, from 2002-2012, before taking up the position of CEO for the Football Federation of Australia (FFA). Yes, the FFA. Probably what could be considered one of the worst, if not THE worst run football federations in the world (Although FIFA did a pretty good job of being horrendously run there for a while with the corruption that took place). The FFA practically run the A-League, and in saying that, in simple terms, David Gallop and his co-authoritarian and fellow dictator Steven Lowy basically run the A-League and get the final say on anything and everything to do with it. This ruins the League. The A-League should be like all leagues around the world, united and together, democratic, and fair, with absolutely no salary caps. If this was the case, we would see a major improvement in the A-League, the players who are involved, and the quality of football that results from it.
At the current time, A-League teams sign players who have previously played for either their own club, or another club within the league. And if current A-League players get an overseas offer, most of which come from China or another Asian country, they will more than likely jump at the chance and take it. Why? Money. Players in the A-League earn a significant amount less than that of players in overseas leagues, inclusive of leagues in Asia. And naturally, players want to earn a high amount of money, so displaying the incentive for international transfers. But we have to ask ourselves, why can’t they be offered enough to stay in Australia? And so we come back to that detested idea that is the salary cap. Every year, at the end of another season in the A-League, teams must, somewhat regretfully, offload some highly respected players in order to make room for new players, or simply because they cannot afford these players anymore. Teams then purchase players who are at a skill level decreased from what has been lost, inevitably resulting in an occurrence of the skill level in the League decreasing. This is the exact reason for which the salary cap must be eradicated, and an expansion should be on the cards, so that talent already formed can be kept, and high quality players can be brought in from overseas. Sure, the marquee and visa spots each team has allows for international players to join up, but it’s not enough. Then there’s the guest player position that was created more recently, most likely an excuse for the FFA to bring Tim Cahill into the A-League, proven through the way in which the FFA have rejected requests from the Western Sydney Wanderers to bring in Bulgarian former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov. The reason given by the FFA: He wouldn’t draw a big enough crowd to the A-League. This really does display how incoherent and ineffective the organisation known as the FFA is. The guest player spot is now therefore classified by some as the Tim Cahill spot.
Expansion also needs to occur in order to bring in new players and grow new talent in Australian football. Expansion has been on the cards for the FFA, with many teams from around the country putting in their applications for joining should there be an expansion. The FFA has previously promised expansion, but have inevitably and not at all surprisingly delayed this necessity, again showing how unnecessary this football organisation is. In fact, current clubs have considered breaking away from the FFA should the need arise in the future. That is, if an intervention from the reformed FIFA organisation doesn’t step in first. The addition of more teams to the A-League, as well as a second division, accompanied of course by the concepts of promotion and relegation, would be promising for Australian football, and for the future of the international team in terms of stability and growth. So it should prove a definite for the future of Australian football.
On another note, the A-League has some very passionate supporter bases, with active support groups such as the Western Sydney Wanderers’ prominent (or infamous) Red and Black Block, and Sydney FC’s The Cove. These groups cheer and chant, powerful and strong in number, but sometimes there are members who get out of hand, and so need to be kept in check. Derbies, particularly the Sydney and Melbourne varieties, pull a strong crowd, with tensions being high every time. It’s great to see the world of football growing in Australia, becoming one of, if not the, biggest sport in the country.
So that’s it from me on football for now. Make sure to check in later for more stories, and I hope you enjoyed this somewhat thorough and detailed analysis. Let me know any suggestions or ideas in the comments and thanks for reading!