Australian football is preparing for its biggest party yet, hosting the 2015 Asian Cup. It is however becoming clear that this is not going to be a national celebration of the game, or if it is the invitations appear to have been lost in the post.
Many around the country were angered when Australia was pitching for the event that the bid was focussed purely on the East coast of the country. Despite the AFC not visiting other states and looking at the stadia in those cities, assurances were made by the FFA, we have an email stating so, that other cities such as Perth and Adelaide would be part of the event. Yet at the moment fans in these cities would not even know that the event was taking place, unless they go looking for news on it.
It seems very remiss of those appointing Ambassadors that they have not appointed people to such roles in the cities where games will not be held, so that they can actually promote the competition, and make people feel that this is a truly national event of which everyone should be proud.
Today it was announced that Ned Zelic would be another Ambassador for the tournament on top of working for Fox Sports as an expert commentator. Is there a conflict there? Will he now be able to speak freely if the tournament has any hiccups? He joins other “domestic football ambassadors” including Sydney-based Brett Emerton, Paul Okon, Rale Rasic and Ali Abbas, Queenslanders Matt McKay and Craig Moore, and Melbourne Ambassadors Harry Kewell and Alan Davidson. Ali Abbas’ and Matt McKay’s appointments also raise a few eyebrows as they are both still currently playing for Sydney FC and Brisbane Roar. Surely such a role should be going to former players who have the time to promote the tournament?
Why have we not seen any appointments in Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory?
Zelic becomes the third current or former player in the Australian Capital Territory to be appointed as an ambassador along with Sally Shipard and Ellyse Perry.
It is interesting to note the population of the ACT is 385,000. The Northern Territory is 243,000 and Tasmania 513,000. Based on these statistics they should have at least two “Ambassadors” each. As for South Australia (1.6million) and Western Australia (2.6million) it is a very strange situation that no “Ambassadors” have been appointed, and we are only three months out from the start of the tournament.
It is great that Australia is hosting this event, but once again fans across the country want to feel a part of it. This dysfunctional “Football Family” has sadly, made many once again feel like the poor relative.
One cannot help feeling that once again the chance to make football truly inclusive has been missed. This is Australia hosting this tournament, sure the Government’s of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and ACT have lent financial support in order to host games, and we all understand that travel was a major issue in the running of the event, but it is time everyone across the country was made to feel a part of it. Most states are very parochial and they want to hear that their heroes of yesteryear are being recognised and appointed Ambassadors; to be snubbed is hard to take.
Hopefully an invitation will be received soon!