Is The Phoenix a Pawn in Football Politics?

A Phoenix is a bird that supposedly burns itself on a Pyre and re-invents itself. Is this the same fate that awaits the Wellington Phoenix Football Club?

It is interesting to read the arguments currently raging between the FFA and the AFC about the Football Federation of Australia having a New Zealand team in its competition. The Asian Football Confederation threatening to ban Australian sides from the lucrative Asian Champions League unless the Wellington Phoenix is dumped by 2012 from the Hyundai A League.

One has to ask would this issue have arisen had New Zealand failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?

It was our understanding that FIFA approved Australia leaving the Oceania Confederation in favour of the Asian Confederation, as long as they continued to try and assist their neighbouring nations in improving their football. Which the Phoenix’s inclusion in the Hyundai A League has obviously done.

One has to question the value of the Oceania Confederation at all, as it is far and away the weakest in the whole FIFA set up. As suggested previously it would be better to have the winners of Oceania then drawn in an Asian group and to play games of quality in order to qualify for key tournaments rather than, as Australia did before, play only two meaningful games a year.

If this is not about New Zealand’s improvement, and the fact that the Phoenix may soon be challenging for an Asian Champion’s League slot, could it be about Australia having two berths in this lucrative competition?

As reported on this blog before Australia forced the issue saying that they would send the Grand Final winners if they only had one team qualify, despite the AFC saying that they would only recognise the team who finished top of the League ladder.

Then again it may also be a ruse to undermine Australia’s world cup bids, to put the ‘new boy’ back in his box and put their weight behind the bids of long term AFC Members, such as Indonesia, Japan, Qatar, and South Korea.

Is The Phoenix a Pawn in Football Politics?
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