A few things to discuss while we’re waiting for the A-League…
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What are your best grand final moments in A-League history? (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
With four weeks until season nine of the A-League kicks off, I thought I’d propose some interesting football topics for us to discuss and debate.
I realise many of them have been brought up in the past, but the football world is always changing, especially in Australia – so it can’t hurt to revisit them!
1. Will Australia ever host the World Cup?
None of us can ever truly know (unless we have a mole working at FIFA), but anything is possible!
Obviously it won’t be happening within the next decade, and probably not even in 2026 as that would make twice in a row that the AFC would have hosted it.
But, Australia certainly has the majority of the necessary infrastructure in place – minus a bullet train, and maybe certain stadia need work.
South Africa hosted it, and their national team is not particularly highly ranked (as with Qatar).
So, being in the top 20 teams in the world is clearly not a prerequisite.
Of course there is plenty of talk of corruption when it comes to hosting the World Cup – but the biggest thing Australia has going for it is that we’re the only continent (or confederation, if you consider our old roots in the OFC) that hasn’t hosted it.
Surely there must come a day when FIFA will grant us the opportunity?
After all, once the Cup has come Down Under, then FIFA can truly say that they’ve conquered the world!
2. How many A-League teams could we see?
A-League expansion is something we always like to discuss and debate, and it seems to be a never ending topic.
Would we rather have a powerful league of 16 teams, or less teams in a promotion/relegation system?
As much as I dream of promotion/relegation, I must admit that I can’t see any safe way for it to happen. Not any time soon, at least.
I think the only way it will happen is if Australia becomes a more powerful football nation.
I have plenty of English friends who still lovingly support their teams in the second and third divisions of their system.
Something like that here is not impossible, but it would certainly take a much, much larger commitment from the people to back the sport.
I think two things that greatly hinder this happening are the sheer size and vastness of the country, and our tiny population.
Of course, anything is possible and only time will tell.
As for the A-League itself, I would personally love to see 20 teams, but would gladly settle for 16. The AFL had 16 teams for quite a while, and it seemed to work well.
Of course, a major advantage that football has is that the winner(s) can move on to a higher league in the ACL, and then go one further if they are truly great.
The fact that there is always a bigger fish is one of the things that makes football amazing.
Regarding expansion, it looks like there are quite a few contenders for the next round, and the NPL is definitely helping to play a part in its recognition.
Tasmania, Canberra, Wollongong, and Ipswich seem to be pushing for it, along with the possibility of Geelong and the Sunshine Coast too.
It will be an exciting time when this day arrives, but I’m happy to wait it out and watch the A-League grow naturally for now. There’s no use expanding outwards if the existing teams have problems, otherwise we’ll keep expanding and end up with 10 teams every time.
3. How much power can the A-League have in Australia?
This topic is always an interesting one, that unfortunately has no answer at this stage.
It would be naïve to suggest that the A-League could become bigger than the AFL, but we shouldn’t rule anything out.
The A-League certainly has potential in Australia to grow, mostly thanks to external factors such as globalisation and a growing migrant population.
A lot of people have mentioned globalisation, and it’s a very accurate term to bring up with football in Australia as a whole.
With some powerful European leagues, and the World Cup being the mammoth event that it is, it means that there is a plethora of talent on display in the world.
And, with the digital age, the desire to have information and interests that come from the rest of the world is happening all around us.
We’re no longer a homogeneous society that only focuses on what we have in Australia. We are connected to the world, and people want to be part of a game that the whole world plays, and that unifies us in such an incredible way.
I’ll never forget seeing gold jerseys in every direction as I walked through shopping centres back in June ’06.
Australia is a very multicultural society, and a lot of its people originate from countries where football is the national sport.
It’s only natural for them to want to continue to follow it here too.
We’ve all said so many times that football is a summer sport here, and all of the codes can coincide happily and peacefully.
We’re a sporting nation, and so many people embrace multiple or indeed all codes.
But there’s one more thing to keep in mind, and this is jumping forward a bit into the distant future: Something is only as popular as its current generation demands.
What I mean is, while AFL runs the show in Australia now, and surely will for some time to come, it’s not out of the question for a future generation to follow something else, such as football.
Of course, the opposite could happen, and future generations of Aussies might only demand more AFL or NRL, so it’s impossible to predict now.
But it is difficult for football here to fail, when it’s the world’s game.
Anyway, just some fun topics there until the A-League starts in less than a month…