Disruption, Football and the FFA

In [ALL POSTS], [ORIGINAL], [THE CULTURE], [THE GAME] by Corina DodovskiLeave a Comment

Football in Australia has the highest participation rate compared to that of other codes and has had a long, and at times, turbulent history. The first ever recorded match under the laws of the sport was on the 14th of August 1880. Research over the years has uncovered that matches were also played on Saturday 7 August 1875 in Woogaroo (now Goodna) just outside of Brisbane and in 1879 a game in Hobart took place between the Cricketers and New Town football clubs.

Whilst football definitely gained momentum with the arrival of large numbers of migrants post-WWII, the reality is that our beautiful game has been played on our own soil for over 140 years.

In 1974, almost 100 years after the first “official” game was ever played, Australia was put on the world football map by making our very first appearance in West Germany for the FIFA World Cup.

The round ball game, that was predominantly popular amongst the ethnic migrant communities, finally got the spotlight it deserved and although competitions between club sides from different states existed in various forms, a need was identified for a National Football (Soccer) League.

In 1977 the National Soccer League was formed and 14 teams were selected to participate in the inaugural season.

The NSL flourished in the 80’s and 90’s attracting crowds of over 20,000 people to sell out small park stadiums. In the late 90’s the league hit a decline with the increasing loss of Australian Ballers to overseas clubs and leagues. There was nowhere else for these young footballers to go so they sought to leave their patron clubs to further their professional careers.

In April 2003 the Federal Government initiated the independent Soccer Review Committee to investigate the governance, management and reported corruption of the sport in Australia. A chairman, Frank Lowy, was appointed to the sports new governing body the Football Federation of Australia (FFA). Lowy announced that a task force would be formed to create a new national league and essentially eradicate the NSL from the face of the earth.

The NSL was the highest level of domestic football from 1977 until it dissolved and was succeeded by the A-League in 2004, 27 years later.

Since the inception of the A-League, there has been only one National League of Football in Australia. One group hopes to change that and give football the shakeup it needs.

On the 14th March 2017, the Australian Association of Football Clubs (AAFC) formally declared its desire to be included in Football Federation Australia’s (FFA) congress. In a statement sent to FFA, the AAFC declared that “a majority” of Australia’s NPL clubs have endorsed the new group, which held its first meeting on March 20 to discuss the implementation of a second National League.

Reportedly; FIFA, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and various A-League clubs have backed the AAFC’s bid to be included in FFA’s voting structure, giving them the green light on a second tier football league. It is understood the AFC considers the AAFC to be as significant as the Australian Professional Football Clubs Association, which represents the 10 A-League clubs. They are now calling on FFA chairman Steven Lowy and CEO David Gallop to get on board.

A video by Victorian football supporter Harry Kyriakidis ran live on Facebook on Monday March 27 appealing to all football purists with ties to former NSL clubs to unite in re-claiming the game.

“The A-League clubs have already agreed to have a second division. FIFA are now approving all of this and FFA don’t want a bar of it.”

A protest has been organised for 11am on Friday 31st March to be staged out the front of the FFA Headquarters at 1 Oxford Street in Darlinghurst. “We need to make sure we push it on that day about the second division..”

FIFA has set FFA a deadline of March 31 to expand its congress beyond its current 10 and these passionate and driven purists are going to be there to ensure the FFA get’s the message loud and clear.

FFA has twice rescheduled a meeting with state federations, A-League clubs and the PFA to discuss how the congress – which elects the national governing body’s board – should be expanded.

“That is the day also on the 31st is the FIFA cut-off day. Which means that’s the day FFA must come clean with FIFA to also say we’ve got more people in voting in the whole of football congress.” Kyriakidis said.

“the protest will be pushing for the new tier as well as bringing the former NSL clubs into the division…”

Supporters of Sydney Olympic FC, South Melbourne FC and Sydney United 58 FC will be among some of those attending the demonstration.

At [FC BALLER] we are PRO football. All Football. All leagues, all club’s and all divisions. I believe it’s crucial at this point to give credit where credit is due.

Football has come a long way in the last decade. The majority of this is a direct result of the A-League, there’s no disputing that, but our needs as a footballing nation are not the same now as they were 12 years ago. We need change.

This isn’t a pro-NSL or A-League post. This is about the future of football in Australia.

This is about creating opportunities for young footballers to shine and about a system in our own country that will nurture the development of ballers all the way through their professional careers. We have more kids in Australia registered to play football than any other sport. We have so many footballers that there is actually a shortage of fields to play on. We need to think about a footballing nation of tomorrow and support those whose interest lies in the beautiful game and not that of self-benefiting business deals. In 2011 ABC’s Four Corners aired their investigation into the strategy and the people used by the FFA in its failed bid to win the right to host the biggest sporting event on the globe – The FIFA World Cup. 

Back then as Frank Lowy was up for re-election as Chairman of FFA, the Federal Government took a long, hard look at the governance and structure of football in Australia and, football fans and clubs asked the critical question – Can football survive in its present form, led by its current team of administrators? Since then, nothing has changed.

We’ll be live from FFA Headquarters on Friday bringing you updates and images from the demonstration.

UPDATE: We have just been informed that the demonstation has been postponed until further notice. We will keep you updated via our FaceBook page as the situation develops.

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