Never try and make sense out of sport. That is a very wise piece of advice.
So often common sense goes out of the window in a sporting environment, and clever men forget the basic principles that made them successful in the business world, and they become irrational.
It would appear that another example of this has arisen in the world of football in Australia. However before we explain this example let us lay out some facts.
Australia currently has the lowest number of players playing in the top five leagues in the world for the past ten or more years. The national team despite a spirited performance against Japan are a team on the wane, old players, many past their best, mixed with young players who are not quite ready for the International stage. Which makes one wonder what has happened to the development of players in the past ten years since the FFA was created.
The FFA has for a number of years been loathe to let young talent head overseas and sign forms with European clubs, for some reason believing that these young players will be better off playing in Australia rather than living, eating and breathing football as well as playing every day in Europe. Many have been accused of going to soon, of being poached, or being misguided, all accusations which may carry some weight in certain cases, but surely that is for the individual to work out.
This talent the FFA believe should be gracing the A-League before it heads overseas. In an ideal world this would be fantastic, but the world, life, and football is not ideal. Some players are definitely better off in Europe than being at an A League club, especially if they are staying to play for a coach not prepared to give youth a chance. Ten months of football at a high level in Europe playing youth or reserve team football against quality opposition or six months in Australia with no where near the same game time, it should be a no brainer.
The other plus from some of these players heading overseas is that they open up opportunities in Australia for players who may otherwise never have had the opportunity to showcase their talent. That in turn means that the talent pool from which the national team will be selected in a few years time is far greater. More Australian players are receiving top level coaching in and outside of Australia.
So one has to question what has brought about the FFA now looking to claim that a young player heading overseas and signing up for a scholarship at a professional club’s academy, is the equivalent to his first professional contract, and therefore looking to demand development fees from the clubs. That is rich when current state league clubs are still waiting on such fees from A-League clubs!
This move will have one result. Clubs in Europe will simply stop accepting Australian boys into their academies unless they are the next Lionel Messi. Any players lucky enough to have dual citizenship are going to be forced at a young age to turn their back on Australia should they wish to pursue their dream career.
Such a move is foolhardy. It does not make rational sense, unless you are looking for a new revenue stream for your business. It is a move doomed from the start. It is a move that is likely to create a huge backlash from parents whose children have the opportunity to head overseas.
If the FFA does not want young talent to take this path then maybe they should set up similar establishments in Australia where players continue their education, are fed, play football and have a bed each night. With no similar establishments who can blame any parent allowing their son to follow such a path.
One really has to wonder who in head office gives such a narrow-minded decisions a green light.