A-League fans need to learn to cop criticism

John Duerden Columnist

By John Duerden, John Duerden is a Roar Expert


211 Have your say

    Wally Mason’s editorial in The Australian, about how diving damages football’s chances of becoming huge in Australia, has many fans shouting for a yellow or red card to be brandished in the face of the paper’s sports editor.

    But the man has a point. After all, the newspaper devotes space to the beautiful game on a daily basis. The term ‘mainstream media’ is not one I favour and it is becoming a pejorative one, but while there may be instances where there is genuine hostility shown to football, surely this paper gives the game a fairer go than most.

    I met Jade North a few times in Korea where he had quite a tough time. Once I asked his club Incheon United if I could interview him to be told I could – on the condition that I asked him how he was settling into life in Korea as United had no idea.

    An articulate and intelligent man and defender, North made a mistake last weekend and his dive was embarrassing.

    It may not, as Mason claims, mean the end of football’s hopes to become the country’s number one sport. But at very best, it does not do those chances any good.

    Fans of other sports who are that way inclined use the practice of diving/simulation/pretending to be injured as a stick to beat the game with and it is hard to blame them. It is an ugly side of the game.

    Some may see it as an affirmation of their existing dislike for the sport, but to dismiss the suggestion that it can turn off potential converts is wrong.

    As is the idea that the sport is perfect and the practice of becoming angry when someone points out its flaws. There are many great things about football – we all have our favourites – but there are negatives too. Obvious cheating, for that is what it is, is a major issue.

    Surely few football fans would argue otherwise.

    The messenger shouldn’t be shot when he or she has a point. If there is hyperbole, sensationalism or untruths, they can be refuted but getting upset when it is noted that football has a diving problem is not the right response.

    There has been criticism that a so-called non-football journalist has written about the game. This is also misguided. It would be fine, one assumes, if he had written something positive; but criticism does not go down well when it comes from ‘outside the family’.

    There have been some gleeful hatchet jobs in the past and this, while perhaps a little over-the-top, is not one of those.

    It has been said that diving is ‘unAustralian’ and this was repeated recently by Greg O’Rourke, the head of the A-League. I am not sure what that means, especially as that term has been used in the past to describe the entire sport. ‘The UnAustralian’ sounds like a good name for a newspaper.

    Diving does seem to be relatively rare in the A-League, though it does go on, or, to put it more accurately, go down. Yet, as many fans are fond of telling supporters of other codes, football is the world game and as long as it happens in the big leagues, it is going to be talked about. You can’t be part of the world game when it suits and not when it doesn’t.

    The A-League is just one part of a global whole and there is never any shortage of examples of such blatant cheating.

    Having a few happen closer to home just gives the criticism a local flavour.

    Wally Mason should not be crucified for writing about it, his piece had a point even if you don’t agree with his conclusion.

    Getting hassled by a parent or partner about spending too much time playing video games? Now, you can tell them the story of how some ordinary gamers scored $225k for just seven weeks of work.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (211)

    • December 9th 2016 @ 4:42am
      lesterlike said | December 9th 2016 @ 4:42am | ! Report

      Yeah nah, we cop enough rubbish from other code followers. Diving is already universally condemned by our own and those who do it are hounded, we don’t need outsiders to bring their own unwanted 2 cents.

    • December 9th 2016 @ 6:42am
      marron said | December 9th 2016 @ 6:42am | ! Report

      The critical articles from journalists who don’t follow the game very often outright state, allude to, or at least have an undercurrent about, the idea of Australian identity and how it is at odds with football in some way. The reaction against such articles is not about diving, or softness, or anything else that is used to show that football is not Australian enough. It’s about the long history of football in this country being seen as part of the “other”, when we all know that there is gamesmanship and cheating in any sport you care to mention in Australia, that Australians were playing football long before the post war migration, that the post war migrants are just as Australian as the roughest toughest boy from the bush league hero.

      • December 9th 2016 @ 10:07am
        aladdin sane said | December 9th 2016 @ 10:07am | ! Report

        well said mate

      • December 9th 2016 @ 10:15am
        Caltex & SBS support Australian Football said | December 9th 2016 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        Good comment Marron.

      • December 9th 2016 @ 11:27am
        Fadida said | December 9th 2016 @ 11:27am | ! Report

        Great post Marron. Sums it up perfectly

      • December 9th 2016 @ 5:35pm
        Justin Mahon said | December 9th 2016 @ 5:35pm | ! Report


      • December 9th 2016 @ 5:50pm
        Chris said | December 9th 2016 @ 5:50pm | ! Report

        Brilliant response

      • Roar Guru

        December 9th 2016 @ 5:59pm
        Mister Football said | December 9th 2016 @ 5:59pm | ! Report


        The flip side is that it is soccer fans themselves who neglect the history of soccer in this country, ignore the early British Football formative years, and have conveniently turned their back on the re-birth of the game in this country via post-war immigration (very often a case of not mentioning the war), such that any discussion of the possible inclusion of the Oceania club of the century is always fraught.

        If that weren’t bad enough, we get historians like Ian Syson who bend over backwards to re-write soccer history in this country to implant the so-called Australian identity, as if it was there from the very start, the very one other football codes are accused of having stolen (from whom exactly?).

        • December 9th 2016 @ 7:26pm
          The word said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

          Just gonna reply here to prove I’m not mf… thoughtful post mf…go the city

        • December 9th 2016 @ 9:05pm
          Post_hoc said | December 9th 2016 @ 9:05pm | ! Report

          Just leave, stop the faux interest, it’s boring and paints you as a petulant child.

    • December 9th 2016 @ 6:58am
      punter said | December 9th 2016 @ 6:58am | ! Report

      Thanks John for your article.

      Firstly no-one can defend blatant diving & this is blight on the game.

      Secondly, it’s not ironic that really in only other professional sport where Australia plays teams from other cultures, in cricket , we really do struggle culturally against the teams for the sub continent.

      In my job I have to deal with a lot of Asian countries & their values differ.

      • December 9th 2016 @ 9:27am
        DH said | December 9th 2016 @ 9:27am | ! Report

        People claim they haven’t hit the ball all the time in cricket when it turns out they clearly did. Not considered unAustralian to act against the spirit of the game there?

      • December 9th 2016 @ 10:52am
        pete4 said | December 9th 2016 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        Exactly in the NRL earlier this year Peter Sterling come out and said diving was becoming too common and players milking penalties should get dropped to reserve grade and they also had a number of incidents this season

    • December 9th 2016 @ 7:00am
      punter said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Neither can you!!!! I open the Roar website, I see the AFL tab, I don’t really enjoy that game, I avoid the AFL tab.

      You cannot help yourself, even on holidays!!!

      • December 9th 2016 @ 7:10am
        punter said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:10am | ! Report

        Where did I say you were an AFL fan. I said I was not, hence why I don’t go onto the tab, you are the paranoid one.

        I suggested to you to go to Disneyland & if you did, maybe you may seen the scene from Bambi that said ‘If you got nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all’.

        I suggest you don’t like football fans, don’t go onto the football tab, life far easier that way.

        • December 9th 2016 @ 7:19am
          correct sometimes said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:19am | ! Report

          i do like football fans, being one myself. i just dont like overly defensive, chip on shoulder fans like you, Qantas supports and Fuss. luckily you are’nt the majority like you think you are

          • December 9th 2016 @ 7:30am
            punter said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:30am | ! Report

            I could list of a thousand things wrong with football in this country, but I tend to concentrate on what I like best & stay on the positive sides of things.

            For a football fan & probably why I thought you a AFL fan, you are similar to some on the football tab, who say they are football fans too (as well as AFL fans) but jump at every negative aspect of the game. I have yet to see you post something positive on the game that you profess to be a fan of.

            Trying posting positive stuff & ignore those Football fans you don’t enjoy reading their comments.

          • December 9th 2016 @ 9:08am
            Post_hoc said | December 9th 2016 @ 9:08am | ! Report

            You keep claiming to be a ‘football fan’ yet you start of this reply to ‘you bring it on yourself’ which indicates that you are separate from the rest of us on here who are football fans. The choice of words betrays what you really think. If you were a football fan, it would have been normal for you to start the same reply with “we bring it upon ourselves’

            So sorry, I am willing to take people at face value but I think you have betrayed your true thoughts with that simple comment.

            I think this is sadder, instead of being honest and say hey look i’m an AFL/NRL/NBA/Cricket fan but if you want my 2c……… Instead you have come here and tried to deceive.

            • Columnist

              December 9th 2016 @ 10:36am
              Stuart Thomas said | December 9th 2016 @ 10:36am | ! Report

              Well said Hoc, the simple use of the you rather then we, says it all. Nice measured response.

          • December 9th 2016 @ 10:19am
            Caltex & SBS support Australian Football said | December 9th 2016 @ 10:19am | ! Report

            Ha, ha, Pip, you never fail to disappoint!! Post_Hock you nailed it…

      • December 9th 2016 @ 12:24pm
        Martyn said | December 9th 2016 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        Who said anything about the AFL?. Your the fifth comment and the 1st to bring in code wars. The article says nothing about AFL. Keep to the subject in hand

        • December 9th 2016 @ 1:14pm
          Post_hoc said | December 9th 2016 @ 1:14pm | ! Report


          As it was a reply, it is not in the order of posts. the point is Correct Sometimes is a known offender of claiming to be a football fan and yet never actually posting about football.

    • Roar Guru

      December 9th 2016 @ 7:01am
      peeeko said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:01am | ! Report

      very good article

    • Columnist

      December 9th 2016 @ 7:23am
      Stuart Thomas said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      I am fascinated by the line, “surely this paper gives the game a fairer go than most.” An admission? Bias in media? No way.

      • December 9th 2016 @ 7:44am
        Franko said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:44am | ! Report


        Saying that, the only thing the Oz give a fair go is Climate Change deniers.

        • December 9th 2016 @ 7:56am
          northerner said | December 9th 2016 @ 7:56am | ! Report

          Oh, it’s pretty good on reporting on things that happen in that tiny bit of the world that isn’t either Melbourne or Sydney. Something which cannot be said of its competitors.