There were in many quarters following his appointment as Associate Editor of the Football Federation of Australia’s website, concerns as to whether respected broadcaster and journalist Mike Cockerill had a conflict of interest continuing to work for Fox Sports while holding such a position. Many wondering whether when criticism was warranted he would actually voice that criticism of his new employer.
Since his taking up the position with the FFA, eyebrows have been raised in relation to whether some of the stories he has written are appropriate to be posted on the national bodies website, a site that should be promoting all clubs in the Hyundai A League and not voicing opinions on clubs or personalities. In fact some in the game have said that the FFA website, by trying to become a news website, has in fact become no more than a football blog, and is in fact letting the stakeholders down.
Earlier in season Central Coast Mariners coach Graham Arnold spoke out about the role of the FFA website and the content run, voicing his concerns that staff were privy to information that was not general knowledge, and were misusing that privilege. Today following the resignation of Adelaide United coach John Kosmina, Mr Cockerill appeared on Fox Sports news and was introduced as “Fox Sports commentator Mike Cockerill..” and in his opening response he says “..obviously when you read the story on our website at the FFA…” To whom does his loyalty lie, Fox Sports or the FFA?
Anyone who watches Football knows that Fox Sports are the official broadcaster of the game in Australia and a key media partner in the successful promotion of the game, but there should be clear lines between the two. Fox Sports is a broadcaster and a media outlet, the Football Federation of Australia is a sports administration body and it is not its role to break news stories; that should be left to its media partner, and other media outlets.
This flagrant link and promotion of the FFA website shows that there is a clear blurring of the lines between the two. It brings into question the integrity of what the public are being told by the broadcaster, as suddenly one no longer feels it is an independent unbiased view. Are Fox Sports being used to as a vehicle to promote the FFA’s website? If they are, one has to question how management could possibly allow this, as Fox Sports have their own news website which would be running in opposition to the FFA’s. Maybe they quite simply do not see this site as a threat.
There is no doubt that the FFA is drifting away from its role as the games governing body and a source of information on the game as a whole in Australia. If it wishes to write opinion pieces and break news stories expect a backlash from the clubs and a breakdown in trust between the clubs administrators and the FFA, as suddenly any issue could find itself being run as a news story and that situation is not a healthy one for the game.
There need to be very clear and definite lines in this area or the game will suffer in the long term. Today’s events simply brought the problem out into the open.