Long dark cloud hangs over New Zealand football

38 Have your say

    It should be remembered as one of New Zealand football’s greatest years. Instead, AFC politics clouds the future of the Wellington Phoenix – the linchpin of New Zealand football’s success – as its glorious year ends in uncertainty.

    AFC’s insistence that Wellington must become an Australian based club, meaning the Phoenix will be restricted in the number of Kiwis they can field, or else face exclusion from the Asian Champions League, shows the confederation isn’t going to budge on this issue.

    It would be a devastating blow for New Zealand, Oceania and the A-League.

    The success story of the Phoenix has been the opportunity it gives to young Kiwis to ply their trade in a competitive and professional league.

    There is a clear path from the clubs of the NZFC to the Phoenix, and without Wellington it is highly unlikely World Cup qualification would have been possible.

    The elimination of New Zealand’s – and Oceania’s – only professional football club will set football back in the region yet again; undoing the advances made during the Phoenix’s existence.

    The AFC’s insistence, undoubtedly fuelled by the All Whites depriving the AFC of a World Cup spot in the form of Bahrain, leaves the FFA in the precarious position of trying to appease the AFC while hoping for a solution to keep a New Zealand presence in the league; assisting Oceania greatly.

    The A-League will be a lesser competition without the Phoenix, their passionate supporters and the quality of Kiwi footballers that are increasingly spreading around the competition.

    The advances in New Zealand football have been obvious – World Cup qualification, Shane Smeltz being awarded the Johnny Warren medal, the NZFC’s Auckland City defeating more fancied AFC opposition in the World Club Cup, and the Wellington Phoenix rising to be a consistent threat in the A-League.

    Without the Phoenix, those achievements would be near impossible to achieve.

    As they try and work themselves into A-League finals contention, keeping one eye on World Cup preparations knowing a strong performance in South Africa is essential to validate Oceania’s half qualification spot, you have to feel very sorry for all those associated with the Phoenix, with an unjust axe hanging over them.

    It’s a grossly unfair situation, and yet again Oceania is being treated like the forgotten child of world football, and the AFC is yet again being ignorant to the fragile state of Oceania and Australia’s burden of responsibility to the region.

    The Phoenix, All Whites and Oceania need FIFA – who have been sympathetic to the Phoenix’s plight – to act with conviction and fairness to ensure the region isn’t condemned to further isolation. The A-League needs Blatter to act in order to save one of the best-run franchises.

    Adrian Musolino
    Adrian Musolino

    Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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    The Crowd Says (38)

    • December 21st 2009 @ 7:02am
      K.B. said | December 21st 2009 @ 7:02am | ! Report

      Invite Auckland City into the HAL then Mohamad bin Hammam would really have something to worry about…. By doing so that would restore parity for the ALL WHITES with 6 players for their national team and still conform to the Asian Confederations foreign player rule … also providing NZ with a derby..


      • December 21st 2009 @ 8:28am
        PRSancho said | December 21st 2009 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        That would be the best answer A-League and FFA could give…

      • December 21st 2009 @ 9:00am
        Roger said | December 21st 2009 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        Yeah, because the A-League will be a roaring success in Auckland, based on past performance and crowds.

        • December 21st 2009 @ 9:13am
          K.B. said | December 21st 2009 @ 9:13am | ! Report

          that was then and now is now and Auckland FC surprise everyone by taking out 5th spot in the FIFA world club cup tournament, winning a cool $1.5m for a couple of weeks work…

    • December 21st 2009 @ 8:06am
      Dickroo said | December 21st 2009 @ 8:06am | ! Report

      Get an Aussie passport for each Kiwi player – Problem solved.

      • September 11th 2011 @ 4:58pm
        Ka-Blonk said | September 11th 2011 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

        Yeah right mate, Australia is going to hand out easy Australian passports to Kiwi soccer players? You’re dreaming.

    • December 21st 2009 @ 8:26am
      PRSancho said | December 21st 2009 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      This completely senseless decision is just another reason to SPLIT the Asian Football Confederation in two, and make Oceania to join a new Pacific Football Confederation.

      This is just silly REVENGE!

    • December 21st 2009 @ 8:32am
      Mxjosh said | December 21st 2009 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      I really doubt these new laws on the phoenix will be implemented. Sepp Blatter has made a strong staement on the matter and said that Wellington will still be in the A-league as it is in the future. Having said that its terrible the way the AFC is threating the Phoenix, they deserve their spot

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2009 @ 8:52am
      AndyRoo said | December 21st 2009 @ 8:52am | ! Report

      How is destroying the 1 profesional football team in the entire confederation “good” for Football.

      It’s a total injustice and those in the West calling for this move should be held more accountable.
      The attempts to hold someone else down rather than improve their own backyard is probably why West Asian football hasn’t progressed as much as other regions.

    • December 21st 2009 @ 9:25am
      Marshall said | December 21st 2009 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      It’s not fair at all. FIFA need to force AFC to take in Oceania then this won’t be a problem

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