There is nothing worse than when a sport or team that you love is made a laughing stock and is publically ridiculed; Football suffered that fate this past week.
What was so sad was the fact that all of the adverse publicity could have been avoided. It was so unnecessary.
What the whole issue surrounding the venue of the tribunal hearing for Noranda Wolves player Hanan Anwan being held at the Inglewood Hotel did was confirm how the game’s administration is still very amateurish in its approach and running of the game. The fact that Ms Anwan is a Muslim and took offence at being asked to attend a tribunal in a venue serving Alcohol merely brought the governing bodies failings to a head. It made one want to weep that it is still 20 years behind other sports, holding official hearings in a pub! Most people believed that those days were well and truly behind us.
The organization was not helped by the blundering reply from Football West’s General Manager of competitions and operations, Keith Wood, when a request to change the venue of the hearing was made. His response claiming “… we live in a country and society in which the consumption of alcohol is permitted and part of Australian culture.” Where was the person making sure that what had the potential to be a politically explosive situation was diffused, as obviously Mr Wood failed to see minefield he was walking into? Not only that Football West sponsor Healthway would no doubt be thrilled with is comments, and he could well have jeopardized that funding.
CEO Peter Hugg, normally so politically astute, also let his guard down with his comment “if someone wants to make a discrimination case of this it’s a shame, but we don’t believe it to be and don’t think we are acting insensitively.” Had the organization an experienced media person in their midst they may have advised Mr Hugg to use the situation to put pressure on the hierarchy to give Football a home and have him state that the offices at Gibbney reserve were unsuitable for such hearings
This unfortunate situation highlighted how Football West, the governing body for the game is one of the few sports to lack a home. They are currently housed in make shift offices, which are in fact the club rooms for Gibbney reserve. The reason being the rent is around $6000 a year and they cannot afford anything else.
For three years the board has been saying that they will find a home for Football, but they have failed. They have never had a plan B and keep linking all of their plans to whether Australia hosts the World Cup, whether the development of NIB stadium will give them offices, or whether they can share offices with Perth Glory; a move we do not endorse. Instead of taking a decision themselves and moving forward, they are continually delayed as their hopes and dreams fall through.
Football West has a board room at Gibbney reserve with the biggest table you have ever seen in such a small room, but a room adequate to host such tribunal meetings. Even better if a smaller table were installed. This whole situation has highlighted that Football is falling a long way behind other sports, despite its massive participation numbers, and questions need to be raised as to why.
They may also want to look at the hiring of spin doctor before allowing any staff to talk to the media.