Sitting it Out

In dancing parlance the Waltz is described ‘as a smooth, progressive ballroom and folk dance, performed primarily in closed position.’ Closed position means ‘dancing with a partner and where both parties hold each other while facing at least approximately toward each other.’

Based on this information it is fair to say that the Matildas are no longer Waltzing. The cancellation of their trip to the USA to take on the World Champions as part of their preparation for the upcoming Olympic Qualifiers. I guess you could say they chose to sit this one out.

Now they will have to wait and see if they are asked to dance again and what dance it will be and to what tune.

One cannot help feeling that eventhough virtually every sports fan agrees, based on their performances in the Asian Cup and World Cups, they deserve the pay package that they are asking for, this was not a wise move.

The team, like the Socceroos has no naming rights sponsor and withdrawing from games when allegedly 60,000 tickets had been sold is not going to entice a sponsor to be linked to such a team.

One has to say that the PFA appear to have completely cocked up negotiations with the FFA. It was we are told their decision to negotiate on behalf of the Socceroos, the Matildas and the A-League players under one umbrella when trying to sort out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Now the Matildas are being held to ransom, if the FFA are to be believed, as the PFA fight for what many believe are unrealistic and unhealthy demands for the A-League.

The sad thing is the Matildas always seem to get the thin end of the wedge.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup commenced in 1991, and the Matildas failed to qualify. They have however qualified for every single World Cup Finals since; six in total, their male counterparts have qualified for 4 over a much longer period. They have also made the Quarter finals on the last three occasions; Something the male team has yet to achieve. This was a greater achievement in 2015 when the tournament was expanded from 16 teams to 24, and they became the first Australian side to win a game in the Knockout stage of a World Cup Finals when they beat Brazil 1-0, courtesy of a Kyah Simon goal.

The Matildas were also the first team to win a trophy in Asia lifting the Asian Cup in 2010 after a penalty shoot out against South Korea.

For a number of years fans of the women’s game, and those who could see the potential in these young women had been crying out for the FFA to invest in the team, as they undoubtedly had the potential to go further. What has to be realised was our team of dedicated battlers were part time and playing against full time professionals. They showed they could match them, one wondered what they could achieve with more time to focus on their game.

The trouble was the FFA was in a win/win situation. The team performs well and they spend very little money. They can say the program is working well. Ironically had they failed they probably would have received more commensurate funding much sooner.

One of the biggest blunders the FFA made with the women’s team was the appointment of Hesterine de Reus as the replacement for the Asian Coach of the year recipient, Tom Sermanni. One has to question whether in terms of her achievements she was qualified for the position, having coached the Netherlands u15s, U17s and U19s but never qualified for a Youth World Cup Finals. She then had a short spell with Jordan where she steered the team to the final of the Arabia cup which they lost to Egypt 1-0, before losing every game in the Asian Games.

The problem with this appointment is it would appear that it was it was made for all the wrong reasons. It is alleged that a member of the FFA board decided that the Matildas needed a woman in charge and used their influence to see de Reus installed as coach.

When she was sacked by the FFA following what was dubbed a ‘player mutiny’ in April 2014, the timing was terrible with the Asian Cup just around the corner. Australia had a month to find a coach re-group and try and defend their title. They lost the final to Japan.

Alen Stajcic who was the interim coach for that tournament was then installed as the permanent coach, and continued to impress at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. However it is believed that in order to get the Matildas back on track after the departure and payout of de Reus, the cupboard was bare in terms of funds.

No doubt the Women in the game were guided by the PFA as to what was best for them hopefully achieving their aims and gaining their just financial rewards, but one cannot help feeling that it was a huge error in judgement.

They still do not have the pay rise that they so richly deserve, their preparation for their Olympic qualifiers have been greatly disrupted and this could have a huge impact on them qualifying, something they have not achieved since 2004. Not only that they will have put the World Champions the USA offside by puling out at the last minute. They will also, despite the talent they have shown made sponsors very wary of coming on board for fear of being linked to similar action n the future. Let’s not forget the FFA is still holding their money from the World Cup.

One can understand why they voted not to go the USA, it is a principle, and they deserve more money. Yet one has to look at those who agreed to still travel and play the USA, and wonder if they did not have the right approach. First of all you get to test yourself against the best team in the World, and the chance to avenge the 3-1 loss at the World Cup. You get to play in a packed stadium, which should they make the Olympics they will have again; so a great experience. Had they put in a solid performance, and who knows beaten the World Champions would that not have strengthened their case?

Yesterday the PFA rejected an offer that would have seen the Matildas undertake their tour of the USA and also receive an immediate payment under an interim agreement with increased pay rates. The FFA claim that the PFA informed them that even if a long-term Matildas CBA agreement had been reached, the players would still not go to the USA.

The reason for this stance was that the PFA wanted the FFA to agree to a $120 million four-year CBA covering the Socceroos and A-League. Why would they agree to such a thing? When until now has the male side of the game in Australia stuck up for their female counterparts? Now when they are being used as part of a deal that quite simply football cannot afford as the men try to gain an even larger share of the spoils.

In fact the two male playing groups continue to be paid by FFA and A-League clubs, while the female players aren’t being paid.Their contracts having expired. Incredibly the PFA advised them not to train or play until the Socceroos and A-League deals are done and they agreed.

The FFA have declared that they tabled an interim deal for the Matildas to enable the tour of the USA to proceed. They offered to make a one-off payment for the players on the tour for the two month period 1 August – 30 September 2015 of $6,750 for each player.  The FFA also state that in addition, they offered to bring forward the payment of FIFA Women’s World Cup prize money for each of the 23 players who represented Australia in Canada. This equates to $13,274.15 per player. One has to question why the players have not received this payment and why the FFA are holding onto that money as the Matildas have earned it and it should be paid irrespective of the CBA.

It would appear that The Matildas could not be further from Waltzing, or from a closed position in which  the FFA and the PFA can look them squarely in the eye. One cannot help thinking that their theme song from hereon in should be Dancing with Myself.


Sitting it Out
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