Australian football decides: it’s hip to be ethnic

Joe Gorman Columnist

By Joe Gorman, Joe Gorman is a Roar Expert

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    Last season’s controversial grand final, the introduction and success of the Western Sydney Wanderers, and the high-profile signings of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono have all been front-page news for Australian football.

    The arrival of David Gallop as the new CEO of the FFA, and the announcement that the Socceroos and the A-League would return to free-to-air television next year, were both considerable achievements for football.

    However, I would argue that the most important moment came off the field, through the release of the FFA’s ‘Multicultural Audit.’

    The report, conducted by consulting company Red Elephant Projects, is part of Football Federation Australia’s so-called ‘multicultural fan engagement campaign.’ After some questionable attempts to engage with the football community over the past decade, full credit must go to the FFA for officially recognising what we’ve all known for the past forty years – that football’s greatest strength is in its diversity.

    With the A-League boasting players ‘from all continents with 56 ancestries represented’, football administrators have been quick to claim that football is “the face of Australia.”

    The release went largely unnoticed in the middle of a busy A-League season. But in truth, the tone of the report represents a profound change in the relationship between the game’s governing body and its multi-ethnic constituents.

    Almost 25 years ago, as the National Soccer League (NSL) entered the 1990s, the Australian Soccer Federation (ASF) commissioned the Bradley Report into the Organisation of Australian Soccer. Like most reports into football during the NSL era, Sydney academic Graeme Bradley blamed the game’s “ethnic image” for the National Soccer League’s lack of penetration.

    “In the long term”, Bradley concluded, “the ASF needs to create the image that soccer is not ethnic.” Indeed, according the the report, one of the five major problems facing football was that “it is seen as a game for ethnics.”

    The report followed calls by commentators and columnists for the game to be Australianised. In early 1990, Frank Scicluna of Australian Soccer Weekly criticised the NSL as “nothing more than a bigger version of the off-season Ethnic Cup.”

    Indeed, the Bradley Report became a blueprint for the reform administration of David Hill and George Negus, who looked to develop franchised, district-based clubs like Perth Glory and Northern Spirit as a way to offset ‘ethnic’ clubs such as Marconi Stallions, Melbourne Knights (née Croatia) and Adelaide City Zebras (née Juventus).

    As we now know, some of these new franchised sides provided the genesis for the A-League, which has separated itself entirely from the so-called ethnic NSL clubs.

    The Bradley Report, however, was no isolated voice. In fact, for the best part of its 28-year history, NSL administrators blamed poor crowds and media coverage on displays of visible ethnicity, and on the image that football was a game for foreigners.

    Making the game ‘Australian’ became something of an obsession. As early as 1978, teams were ordered to remove symbols of ethnic allegiance from their names and badges, often causing enormous conflict between the governing body and the clubs.

    Indeed, the de-ethnicisation of Australian football even drew the ‘father of multiculturalism’, Al Grassby, into the debate. According to Grassby, de-ethnicising the image of Australian football was “a very serious subject”, with “far-reaching effects, not only for those involved in soccer.”

    Later, politicians Mike Rann and Morris Iemma also weighed into the debate, condemning the the game’s administration for distancing themselves from their perceived ethnic image.

    Similarly, in a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald in December 1987, the former editor of Soccer World , Andrew Dettre, criticised the governing body’s “periodic crusades to cleanse soccer’s image.” According to Dettre, football was destined to be “deeply ethnicised.”

    More than two decades later, the A-League has few of these problems. Frank Lowy, John Singleton and John O’Neill laid the foundations for football to become ‘Australian’ in a way that the NSL and the ASF never could.

    Ensuring that catch-all clubs are politically ‘neutral’ and representative of their geographical area has ensured, as John O’Neill once predicted, that “everyone would be pitched together.”

    In truth, the A-League has triumphed by assimilating Australia’s diverse football family.

    It is with some irony then, that the FFA has begun to positively conflate football and multiculturalism. The report proudly states the game’s cultural and linguistic diversity.

    The question that has to be asked, surely, is why now? Why is it suddenly acceptable for the game to celebrate diversity?

    Following World Cup qualification back in 2005, commentators began to celebrate the multicultural Socceroos. Michael Cockerill – who in 1983 lamented “the destructive spiral of a stubbornly ethnic game” – suddenly waxed lyrical about the rich tapestry of the Socceroos.

    22 years after telling the game’s ethnic constituents to “lump it”, Cockerill was now singing the praises of the multicultural nation.

    Similarly, Nick Giannopolous commented in 2006 that the “culturally integrated” Socceroos would silence critics of multiculturalism. Australia’s footballers were, according to Giannopolous, “the microcosm of our community.”

    It has taken longer, however, for the governing body to get on the multicultural bandwagon.

    Considering the Socceroos and the A-League’s ‘mainstream’ appeal, the FFA are currently operating from a position of strength, not marginalisation. Success had bred a new appreciation of the game’s diversity.

    Or perhaps football administrators – having banned all displays of ethnic nationalism at A-League games, including the waving of foreign flags – feel that they have the ethnic element under control.

    In any event, football should be proud to boast its multicultural credentials. As Craig Foster commented in late October, “Australia needs football as much as football needs Australia.”

    Similarly, incoming CEO David Gallop recently argued that “no other sport can truly reflect the unique multiculturalism of our country.”

    However, while patting ourselves on the back in this multicultural moment, the football community should also remember that ‘ethnics’ have too often also been made the scapegoat for the failings of the game in Australia. Football has been perhaps the most willing of all Australian sports to savage its own support base.

    For now, congratulations to the FFA. It can only be positive that, in the space of just a few decades, the way in which we speak about football has transformed from “a game for ethnics”, to “the face of the nation.”

    Hopefully, we can continue to celebrate diversity in the bad times as well as the good.

    Joe Gorman
    Joe Gorman

    Joe Gorman is a football journalist with a particular interest in sports history. After completing his thesis on football in Australia, Joe started with The Roar in October 2012. He tweets from @JoeGorman_89.

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    The Crowd Says (82)

    • December 27th 2012 @ 6:54am
      Johnno said | December 27th 2012 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      A very good article. This bring up a lot of points. One for me is this ethnic issue. All this talk about say west sydney being a very multicultural club etc. But the NSL was ethnic to, with clear ethnic divisions. Maybe now the difference is clubs, will be multicultural, rather than run by just 1 ethnic group. And the image of Sokah in this country, will be one for all people, not just clubs run on ethnic lines. But also some reality to. People who have anglo saxon heritage have made a contribution , to Australian football, it has not all been people from other ethnic groups.
      Guys like Lucas Neil, Craig Moore, Craig Foster, Paul Wilson, Paul Wade, Robbie Slater,Graham Arnold, these names are as mainstream as you can get. I suppose it’s about unity, all cultures coming together , and no ethnic divisions.

      • December 27th 2012 @ 8:33am
        Kasey said | December 27th 2012 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        This article at its base level is about recognising the roots of the game, the roots that kept the home fires burning when it wasn’t cool to be a football fan(hell I don’t think it it is cool to be a football fan just yet, but we are heading in that direction).

        I have heard many people banging on about healing the ‘divide’ between so called New football and Old Soccer, by introducing an FFA cup, but I feel there is a cheaper and less risky option on the table for the FFA. Proper Recognition of what was achieved by the NSL clubs from 1977 on. I would love to see a composite list of National Australian Domestic football records from 1977 onwards to now. If need-be, annotate the records so they clearly indicate the NSL era and the HAL era. I feel that recognition. Blokes like Damien Mori deserve to be recognised as the all-time leading domestic goal scorer. Alex Tobin for games played etc. Clubs like SMFC for titles won, Perth Glory too.There is precedent in that league we seem to look up to all too often, the EPL. they have records going back further than the 20 years of the Premiership that include from when the top flight in England was called the First Division. Winning titles pre-2005 was just as difficult as it is now, perhaps more so as the players were semi-pro and juggled football with regular jobs

        • December 27th 2012 @ 10:47am
          mahonjt said | December 27th 2012 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Yep – I have wanted this or some time. It will happen – I am sure of it.

        • December 27th 2012 @ 5:52pm
          Evan Askew said | December 27th 2012 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

          True. it pisses me off on fox sports when I see a players carrer summarised and it only includes games in the A league. Like the person has never had a career overseas or in the NSL.

    • December 27th 2012 @ 7:09am
      Bondy. said | December 27th 2012 @ 7:09am | ! Report

      Social perceptions are everything ,one could put forward the case if you called somebody a’ WOG” in the 80’s people would get away with that form of behaviour,but not now,when was the last time you heared somebody call another person a Wog or Spik the last time I heared something like that publicly was about 1998.

      There is a major sporting cultural divide with Australian sport if you look at aussie rules and cricket I dont see their multicultured footprint, I went to an aussie rules game once ,gee the crowd was white and old as well not modern and cricket is not far behind, both sports in a multicu;tured sense have struglled.

      Enjoy your articles Joe one a week would be great.

      • Columnist

        December 27th 2012 @ 9:57am
        Joe Gorman said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        thanks Bondy. Rules has always attracted a few non-Anglo players, notably Jesaulenko and DiPierdomenico (Dipper). The difference is, there has never been an ‘ethnic’ AFL club, and probably never will be. It is interesting to see, though, how AFL and rugby league have been slowly ‘ethnicised’. Can only be a good thing!

        • December 28th 2012 @ 4:15pm
          Anon said | December 28th 2012 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

          No ‘ethnic’ club at AFL/VFL level necessarily,

          although, interestingly, where the NSL and soccer’s ethnic based clubs became something to move away from, at lower levels in Australian Football we’ve seen Box Hill North FC assist the growth of the Southern Dragons Asian based club (Chinese/Vietnamese) in Melbourne in recent years and now the Indian ethnic based Masala footy club is being established.

          These are aimed at specific ethnicities that in some respects need a bit of a helping hand in accessing the game. Soccer normally doesn’t have that problem.

          • December 29th 2012 @ 5:20am
            Bondy. said | December 29th 2012 @ 5:20am | ! Report

            If you admit to being TC, i’ll never return to this website for you.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 4:01pm
          Nick Hatzoglou said | January 7th 2013 @ 4:01pm | ! Report

          Interesting how AFL & Rugby League needed to become more multicultural and World Football needed to be less multicukltural in order to appeal to more Australians.

          • January 7th 2013 @ 4:43pm
            Daryl Adair said | January 7th 2013 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

            Hi Nick, I think that, in actuality, these three sports all have considerable ethnocultural diversity, though with variations. The AFL and the NRL are very strong in terms of Indigenous participation – about 10-12% of contracted players. The NRL is particularly strong in terms of Maori and Pacific Islander participation – about 36% from memory. Together with NRL Indigenous players, they make up nearly half of the playing group! HAL features a number of international players, which certainly adds to its ethnocultural mix. Unlike, say, cricket each of these three codes has strong participation from across Australia’s multicultural communities, though there are variations.

            I think the “appeal to Australians” argument around ethnicity “should” be an issue of the past. Where bridges need to be built, in my view, is between the former NSL clubs that have a strong ethnic lineage and still feel marginalised by the restructure of football under the A-League. It is all well and good for the FFA to trumpet its multicultural playing base, but they need to be careful of hubris. After all, the A-League was born, at least in part, by a spurning of ethnic clubs.

            Cheers, Daryl

            • January 8th 2013 @ 11:30am
              Nick Hatzoglou said | January 8th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

              Daryl, you make some terrific points. The challenge remains for Rugby League / AFL to be more reflective of contemporary Australia and increase its multicultural engagement, not only in the playing ranks at the highest level but across coaching, administration & umpiring.

              The Indigenous component whilst it has recently leveled is something the AFL can be proud of but should not get complacent about. Still no Indigenous coaches, umpires or administrators at the highest level.

              The Pacific Islander foray into League is outstanding, but this is only a small sliver of the multicultural sector, where are the others?

              I think the FFA understands the importance of the multicultural history of football in Australia and are taking careful steps to engage it more meaningfully. Nonetheless the A-League has a promising reflection of Australia’s current population but lots of work to do with engaging the first Australian’s (good signs Mark Williams and Travis Dodd)

              With respect to Cricket, the quicker they get Usman Khawaja into the test team the better. Cricket, whilst an international sport is too skewed in Australia to the dominant demographic when it comes to elite level players. Are there no players of culturally diverse backgrounds coming through the pathways? Can the system be strengthened to get this flow through?
              To secure its future as one of Australia’s premier sports cricket must connect more strongly with the other 50% of the population. Will require change agents with the necessary skills, allocated adequate budget and strongest support from the CA commission.
              Indigenous, little progress since the first touring team to the UK. Very disappointing. Although CV and other states are doing some good work around the Imparja Cup.

              In summary, lots to do for everyone. Must maintain appetite for progress and inclusion.

              Regards Nick

      • December 28th 2012 @ 3:55pm
        bryan said | December 28th 2012 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

        I like your sample size—–“I went to an aussie rules game once”.
        In WA,Aussie Rules crowds have been multicultural for as long as I’ve been around–which is an excessively long time.

        If you go to any AFL game in this State,you get the same mix of ages & Ethnicities which you get at a “Football” game.
        Hell!—–A lot of times they ARE the same people!!

        And players- If you look at a roll call of Aussie Rules greats,Croatian, Italian & other ethnic groups abound.
        Many of the “Anglo” names belong to Aboriginal players.

        My brother-in-law,who is German by birth,but whose Stepdad was Polish (what ethnic team should he play in?) played “Soccer”,”Footy”,Basketball (at State level),& Hockey as a young bloke living in Collie WA.
        His mates came from all over—-the reality of ethnicity in a country town!

        Even before that,my Dad,working in the Railway workshops in the 1950s, had mates from Italy,Croatia, Serbia,Lithuania,& various other places,many of whom followed or played “Soccer” or “Aussie Rules” on the weekend.
        Of course,in those days,blokes worked a full day in a normal job,went to footy practice,got home late,back to work next day,& played on the weekend.

        Cricket?——-I just finished watching the Boxing Day Test–try telling all those Sri Lankan supporters that they are not ethnic!

    • Roar Guru

      December 27th 2012 @ 7:55am
      Fussball ist unser leben said | December 27th 2012 @ 7:55am | ! Report

      Joe, I’m really enjoying these articles, which seek to explore AUS football culture.

      I, too, have pondered:

      “The question that has to be asked, surely, is why now? Why is it suddenly acceptable for the game to celebrate diversity”

      My gut feeling is to do with “globalisation”. Living in AUS in the 70s, 80s and even 90s was an isolating experience.

      We are geographically isolated from the rest of the world – heck, my home city of Melbourne is geographically isolated from Perth & Brisbane – and this isolation meant Aussies were beholden to the mainstream media for information.

      The mainstream Aussie media’s owners, boards, management teams & journalists have never reflected the cultural diversity of AUS & they have fed us a bigoted view of a world, which ridiculed & provided negative imagery of non-Anglo & non-white American culture.

      This led to 2nd generation Aussies shunning their cultural background – I grew up with kids from ethnic backgrounds, who would Anglicise their Euro-names in order to not be different.

      Now, that’s all changed. Aussies travel a lot more. And, the internet has removed the mainstream media’s stranglehold on what Aussies read, watch & absorb.

      Being ethnic – having an ethnic name, enjoying ethnic films, speaking a LOTE – is now enjoyed with pride. Social media results in humans being drawn together based on shared social values & interests and, when it comes to football, the Game is embraced by Aussies from every ethnic background, every religion, all sexual persuasions, both genders, all age groups & every socio-economic grouping.

      Simply, Football is a global sport; a global hobby; a global cultural event.

      And, in the 21st century being an Aussie, who understands and embraces global culture, is much more hip than being an Aussie, whose life is confined to an island of 22 million inhabitants … “oi oi oi”!

      • December 27th 2012 @ 9:38am
        TheKavorka said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        agree with this comment 100% – well said

      • Columnist

        December 27th 2012 @ 9:50am
        Joe Gorman said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        pretty well bang on there Fuss, some good points

      • December 27th 2012 @ 10:09am
        vinie said | December 27th 2012 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        I love this article too, and nice reply Fussy ball your 100% correct

        in Western Sydney i play in a local premier league comp which has many teams that have one ethnic origin, mainly middle eastern and italian, but the WestSydWandrerers brings all us together uniting for one team.

        just to be cheeky, i have supported every team that has played against Sydney FC. and still thank every team that beats them every week.

      • December 27th 2012 @ 10:49am
        Midfielder said | December 27th 2012 @ 10:49am | ! Report


        Top post….

      • December 27th 2012 @ 10:54am
        Midfielder said | December 27th 2012 @ 10:54am | ! Report


        On a broader spread …. in Sydney today the effect of Asian emigration is huge… selective schools and university entrance points… food … business… that our biggest economic trading partners are all from Asia… yet we still take our major stories from the US, UK and Europe…

      • December 27th 2012 @ 11:40am
        nickoldschool said | December 27th 2012 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        Well put Fuss.

        I think many are just realising now how parochial and insular mainstream Australia was/is until now. Not so long ago, to watch SBS, football, foreign movies, drink wine and not beer was seen as non-Australian and often frowned upon. ‘ are you gay ?’ was a typical question my mates and I were hearing when doing one of those things! I am talking 10-12 years ago. Being primarily a rugby guy, it was easier to fit in but for others it was sometimes difficult to admit that yes, you liked football especially if you were 170cm tall.

        Now, I see things changing, a bit. Internet, travelling and the realisation that the outside world was seeing Australia as a ‘strange’ nation in many ways has helped changed things. There is still a long way to go though. But am glad guys like Matty Johns or others do acknowledge that football has its place in Australian culture and that no, Oz is not only about league, cricket and afl.

    • December 27th 2012 @ 8:13am
      Boule said | December 27th 2012 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      I am of Anglo background and have enjoyed the last 5 years of football with one of the factors being that when I tell people I play football they don’t call it “Wogball”.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • December 27th 2012 @ 5:43pm
        Kasey said | December 27th 2012 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

        Sadly i still get the wog-ball thing every now and again but it is a more infrequent occurrence than when I was growing up. As an adult I no longer feel the urge to say the right thing in a childlike attempt to fit in. When someone asks me who my team is, I just straight out reply Adelaide United. I no longer feel the need to add an AFL/SANFL team like I’m reciting a exam answer to the Australian are you?
        I am Australian, my mother is an Illawarra girl, my father was born in the Netherlands, but he served 10+ years in the ADF..I am about to tick over 15 yrs in the Navy myself I’ve followed the Socceroos over 5 of the 7 continents… I am Australian and I am football. Screw the haterz:) He who angers you controls you. 2011-2015will be looked back upon as the turning point years when football grew up, became comfortable within its own skin(like and adolescent becoming a mature adult) got some money in its pocket – Football is no longer the poor cousin at the big boys table in Oz:)

        I guess an environment like my workplace where taking the Mick is just the way it is and likely always will be means I’ll forever be asked if my team “won the riot on the weekend” No big deal…football is on the up swing and its been a remarkable journey from my first NSL game in the 1980s as a youngster at Kensington Sports Field to watch Adelaide Juventus with the Italo-Australian dads of my Junior Soccer team mates.

    • December 27th 2012 @ 8:19am
      steven said | December 27th 2012 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Australia has had a long history of confusion over immigrants. While multiculturalism should be celebrated, perhaps in football, more than in any other pursuit, that confusion of identity has been played out, in all its forms, good and bad.

    • Roar Guru

      December 27th 2012 @ 9:04am
      Philip Coates said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:04am | ! Report

      The author has incorrectly confused being ethnic with being multicultural and uses these two terms as if they are the same thing – which they are not. Being part of an ethnic group is to be part of a group of people with a common trait be-it religion, nationality, language, culture. The old NSL clubs were, in the main, ethnic clubs – Juventus, Hellas, Croatia, Hakoah, etc. They celebrated their ethnicity which was (is) mono-cultural and excludes other nationalities either deliberately or by implication of not welcoming “others”.

      The A-League correctly tried to break this mold and it is noticeable and significant, not so much that the A-League can boast players from 56 nationalities, but more importantly, that a club like MVFC can probably boast supporters from 56 nationalities. MVFC and other A-League clubs do not have a single ‘ethnic’ supporter base (and it’s not really hip to be ethnic), clubs have a multicultural supporter base and it’s hip to be part of a harmonious multi-culture.

      • Roar Guru

        December 27th 2012 @ 9:22am
        peeeko said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        very correct phil, the comment about cockerill changing his views was way off the mark

        • Columnist

          December 27th 2012 @ 9:50am
          Joe Gorman said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          from the horse’s mouth, peeeko.

        • December 27th 2012 @ 9:51am
          steven said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          I disagree Phillip. As is often the case, multiculturalism and ‘diversity’ are seen as being worthy of celebration when the cultural hegemony remains white-dominated, as it is in the A-League.

          • Roar Guru

            December 27th 2012 @ 12:32pm
            Philip Coates said | December 27th 2012 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

            Steven, I not sure what your point is. The cultural hegemony (predominant influence) of Australia is ‘white’, with a healthy sprinkling of many other colours. If the A-League is predominately ‘white’ but with 56 nationalities, I’d say it reflects the Australian situation pretty well and that was the point of the claim that football is the ‘face of Australia’.

            • December 27th 2012 @ 12:40pm
              steven said | December 27th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

              I agree with your point, Phillip, that the A-League is reflective of the ‘face of Australia’. My point was that the desire to embrace multiculturalism by the FFA is now easier because the clubs and the League are largely controlled and managed by the dominant cultural hegemony.

      • Columnist

        December 27th 2012 @ 9:48am
        Joe Gorman said | December 27th 2012 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        firstly, I do understand there is a difference between multicultural and ethnic. Believe me, I am well aware of the debate as to whether or not the NSL clubs were ‘monocultural’ or ‘multicultural’.

        I’d have to argue that our perception that a club like Marconi, for example, is monocultural is just that – perception. The reality is, that Club Marconi embraces many different nationalities and its players were and continue to come from various backgrounds. Of course many Anglo-Australians support these clubs, without being excluded. It seems the Australian media let symbolism get in the way of reality.

        My article was not meant as a criticism of the A-League, or to glorify the NSL. But sometimes its good to see how things have changed, don’t you think?

        • Roar Guru

          December 27th 2012 @ 12:11pm
          Philip Coates said | December 27th 2012 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

          Yes Joe, it is good to see how things have changed … and they have.

          Sure the reality of clubs is slightly different to the perception and we can argue about perception or realty for a while, but I don’t think the media misreported the reality that In the old days clubs were characterized as Greek, Italian, Macedonia, Jewish, Dutch, Croatian, etc … the general public saw it that way and in the most part it was true – the power brokers at Heidelberg Alexander were all Greeks and so were the vast majority of supporters, the power brokers and supporters at Melb Knights were Croatian. The make up of players was slightly more mixed because ultimately the clubs wanted to win things. However, today no one talks in terms of nationality or ethnicity regarding A-League clubs … it’s Syd vs Adelaide, Victory vs Heart, Syd vs West Sydney.

          • December 27th 2012 @ 4:12pm
            Stevo said | December 27th 2012 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

            This is true. The clubs were setup to help immigrants settle in Australia and they did this by surrounding themselves with people from the same culture as a buffer to the “alien” land that they found themselves in. Greek clubs were run by Greeks, Croatian by Croatians, etc etc – who would think it would be any different? Heck I am still a member of an ethnic social club so I have first hand experience. For Football to grow in Australia, we needed a circuit breaker and the multicultural approach of the HAL is spot on. For all that was achieved by the NSL it had run it’s course. No going back but recognition of what was achieved by those that went before us is part of our journey.

      • December 27th 2012 @ 10:04am
        Bondy. said | December 27th 2012 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        I dont see it that way phil, I believe nsl clubs were accomidating to all forms both players and supporters I think of the likes of Alex Tobin for Adelaide even B Emerton for Sydney Olympic, my experience has been with the nsl and hal if you love the sport you dont care what colour a person is or what they eat.

        Joe, (Sydney academic Graeme Bradley blamed the game’s “ethnic image” for the National Soccer League’s lack of penetration.)
        One could sugget that’s still happeing with the hal with certain outlets even today.

        • December 27th 2012 @ 12:53pm
          Midfielder said | December 27th 2012 @ 12:53pm | ! Report


          I don’t think Phil is talking about players … he is talking about club management and the supporters who went to the matches … if you ever went to a Sydney United or Olympic match as examples… there was no ban on anyone going but it did not take long to understand where the crowd was coming from…

          This is the sticking point …. the NSL had clubs that said they represented certain countries and did not care who came… but given that who would come… the lost years of often corrupt, in-would looking, ethnic based clubs had and has no place in modern Australia… essentially football has had to grow up… regional based clubs was always the way to go…

          I despair at people saying it is in some kinda way racial to criticise what some of the NSL clubs stood for… while sometimes the very best that happened was in the NSL years so too was the worst of times… but my despair is at the not that people are saying FFA has finally accepted the wogs… it’s the NSL was a failed model that did more to harm the wogs than anything else…

          Get Kerry Packer’s book and read how he [i had a mate that was part of this at the time and confirms it all] offered along with News to develop a 10 team soccer competition with the same format as the PFA put forward with top overseas coaches … but all new teams…. sponsored by the Australian & News …all matches broadcast FTA on 9… almost double the money any other code had … and they stabbed him and News in the back …. trouble was he wanted as in WSC to control the teams in the first few years … it’s funny how SBS never report this part of footballs history…

          I don’t think many folk understand how much the old NSL were mistrusted by the media and how hard FL has worked to overcome this…. what can sometimes be read one way is not the only way or only reason…

          • December 27th 2012 @ 5:26pm
            Daryl Adair said | December 27th 2012 @ 5:26pm | ! Report

            Dear Midfielder, I’m fascinated by Packer being interested in promoting a national soccer competition. Which book is this discussed in? I can’t seem to find anything on the web by searching Google books. Thanks.

            • December 30th 2012 @ 2:33pm
              Jimmy said | December 30th 2012 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

              [comment deleted]

              • December 30th 2012 @ 2:40pm
                Daryl Adair said | December 30th 2012 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                Jimmy, I will follow this up once I can get to a library. Maybe it is a myth. Midfielder, can you help?

                Packer was a friend of any sport he thought could help him drive his television network.

                He had his critics, for sure. But for you to “love” the thought of him “burning in hell” is perverse. Take a good look in the mirror, mate. The Roar isn’t a space for hate and vitriol.


          • December 27th 2012 @ 6:47pm
            MelbCro said | December 27th 2012 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

            @ midfielder

            “ethnic based clubs had and has no place in modern Australia”

            In other words my club has no right to exist because of its ethnicity? What an absurd comment. Look at grassroots football across this country, made up of many ethnic clubs. These clubs are still a vital part of the sport in this. Yet they have no place in modern Australia?

          • December 30th 2012 @ 4:14pm
            db swannie said | December 30th 2012 @ 4:14pm | ! Report

            I call straight out lying/BS .
            Where is proof of theclaim about KP?

            • December 30th 2012 @ 6:25pm
              Andyroo said | December 30th 2012 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

              I have seen it written in at least 3 books. Arthur George was in charge of Soccer at the time.

              • December 30th 2012 @ 7:29pm
                Daryl Adair said | December 30th 2012 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

                G’day Andy, I am intrigued by this. Do you happen to remember any of the three books? Would love to follow up any discussions Packer had with Australian soccer officials. Cheers, Daryl

              • December 30th 2012 @ 8:52pm
                Andyroo said | December 30th 2012 @ 8:52pm | ! Report

                Unfortunately I can’t remember the exact names as I have read a lot (too many) books about Soccer and what was in what escapes me.

                I’m surprised I couldn’t find anything with google and the Arthur George Bio on Wikipedia was incredibly short.

                I can’t recall the timing of the offer and wether it was before or after the NSL started. But basically he went to the federation (no talk of a breakaway league) willing to sponser a mainstream competition but either Arthur George said no or it was just too hard (this was when the ethnic clubs were at their strongest).

                Not sure if they actually said no or they just dithered for too long and Kerry Packer moved on.

                Many years later Channel 7 approached Siccer Australia about doing the same thing, handed over their money and then got dudded when Soccer Australia did nothing.
                They get painted as the bad guy but that deal was two parties treating each other badly.

                I am sure some of the other posters on the roar would have better access to the details (being overseas makes it hard for me) but they probably aren’t paying attention to this old thread.

            • Roar Guru

              December 30th 2012 @ 10:07pm
              Fussball ist unser leben said | December 30th 2012 @ 10:07pm | ! Report

              Andyroo is 100% correct.

              I, too, have read the same version of events re: Kerry Packer approached the ASF with the proposal to bankroll a soccer competition in AUS, provided Channel 9 was given exclusive TV broadcasting rights.

              Packer was willing to pay much more than Channel 7 paid for the NSL broadcast rights, however, Packer wanted control over the administration of the competition and the ASF administrators didn’t want to lose their power.

              Here is what Midfielder, posted on this website in 2009:

              “The full details of the Packer offer was as follows… Kerry Packer had shaken hand with Sir Aurthur George on a TV / Radio national broadcast deal.. the deal was in part sponsored by News limited via ..”The Australian”… The Australian was to have the naming rights to the new league.. essentially Kerry Packer & Rupert Murdock backing football…Packer via TV / Radio Murdock via the Australian. (The Australia was also in start up mode as well)

              Now it must be understood the media at this point in time… 2UE had John Laws .. who is without doubt the most influential media person in Australia over the last 40 or so years.. 2UE broadcast over all of regional Australia and Laws had a daily audience of close to two million people..

              Four things that where present then that are not present now…1) AM radio was still the king of radio, 2) TV had a much bigger viewership& influence than today, 3) No one else had established a national competition..4) there is no John Laws out there anymore in radio land.

              Part of what excited Kerry was the broad spread of the player base … RU does not have this .. as we have often discussed Sheek RU is more areas and towns of influence not nationally broadbased.

              Sheek you are right in your endeavors as without a broad based national domestic competition .. it is difficult to see RU competing at the same level it does today in another 20 years.. “

              • December 30th 2012 @ 10:12pm
                Daryl Adair said | December 30th 2012 @ 10:12pm | ! Report

                Thanks so much Fussball and Andyroo. This is terrific information. I will follow up and use it in my Sport Management classes. The students will love this. All the best to you and have a happy new year.

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