Most sports fans want to watch a game or an event and know that what they are watching is real, that both teams are going out there to win and give their best for their fans. In most cases that is always the case. Despite one team being an underdog in terms of form, most fans also want to see an even playing field in terms of the rules under which teams compete. If either of these two rules of engagement are broken the belief in what is on view is eroded, as was evident with cricket and the unfortunate betting scandals and cycling and its doping scandals.
In football in Australia various clubs are whispering their discontent over a number of issues, but are afraid to voice them publicly for fear or retribution.
There is no doubt that there should be some very clear lines as to how the game is run, and this was made clear in the Crawford Report on which the administration of Football today was supposed to based. The FFA administer the game as a whole in Australia, and the state bodies were to act on their behalf carrying out the same role at the next level. The national competition, The Hyundai A-League was to be run separately. Each club in the Hyundai A league to be a private enterprise and run by the owner.
This has not happened and in recent years we have seen the FFA assist in bringing back former Socceroos and also other key players for certain Hyundai A League clubs. The FFA recently assisted Brisbane Roar in the acquisition of Jade North. Should this be happening and how do the fans of other clubs who have not benefitted from such support feel?
The FFA actually own and run a club, in the competition that they run, and they allowed that club more overseas players than all of the other teams in the competition. Again is that fair and should it be allowed? Ignore the success of the venture and the fact that they have been a good addition to the league, football must be run fairly and transparently.
The question that has to be asked is do the fans have the right to be told of the FFA’s involvement in procuring talent for certain clubs, and if they have thrown any money into the pot to help that club secure the services of a player? With the FFA being predominantly funded by the Government, and player registrations around the country many people would say that this information should be revealed; obviously without disclosing the player’s financial arrangements.
Linked to this issue is the media, a profession that many say has changed with the birth of the internet, and therefore the levels of integrity that existed in the past no longer are relevant.
Back in the days of Don Bradman newspapers paid for players to write columns so that the readers may have an insight into the thinking of the top players. This was all well and good and everyone knew that the player was being financially rewarded for his contributions. Things have changed in the last twenty years with players being much more commercially savvy and protecting their image rights, and also deservedly making money off them.
The trouble with this is that once again everything can end up not being as it seems to the fans, which some may say does not matter, but to others it is a big issue.
How would fans feel if they heard that a television station or a radio station was contributing to the salary of a player who played for a team whose games they covered? One can imagine that for that situation to occur the player is in some way obligated to the media outlet, or his image may be used to assit them in promotion, that being the case the station, or stations, are unlikely to criticise or reveal anything unsavoury should it occur to their viewers or listeners, as it could harm their investment. In these situations should the media outlets have to reveal their relationship, thereby allowing the fans to judge whether they are indeed being given balanced coverage?
There are many who will say that Football in this country needs that transparency and that such secrecy, or non-disclosure could ultimately do the game more harm. Others will say that as long as the game is moving a head who cares. To those be warned, as when investigative journalist Andrew Jennings new book The Bid: Secrets of the Battle to Host the World Cup (Read extracts via the link) hits the book shops, it could indeed send shockwaves through Australian football, and increase the demand for transparency. Jennings is the Author of “Foul” a book that exposed the corruption within the game’s governing body FIFA, and came on “Not The Footy Show” a year ago to discuss how badly Australia’s World Cup bid was managed. Some of the key players may have left the FFA, but one can bet some of the practises remain.
The game and the fans deserve to have a clear understanding of how each team has been put together before they cross the white line, so that they can sit back and enjoy the game knowing that they are watching a true sporting contest, being played under the same rules by both sides.