The World Cup is the positive story Australian football needs

Mike Tuckerman Columnist

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    The World Cup offers Australian football a chance to build momentum (Photo by Joosep Martinson - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

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    The World Cup is by any measure the biggest sporting event on the planet, so it’s incumbent upon Football Federation Australia not to let an opportunity slip.

    So there’s a new digital streaming rights deal between the FFA and Telstra that will see every A-League game streamed live on Telstra mobile phones until 2023 – as well as selected W-League, Socceroos and Matildas games.

    And non-Telstra customers can access the same content through a variety of reasonably priced yearly, monthly or weekly passes.

    That’s good news, isn’t it?

    It not only throws the gauntlet down to Optus – which recently extended its deal to broadcast the English Premier League and will offer a standalone streaming service to non-Optus customers to watch the World Cup – it also means the A-League joins the NRL and AFL in being streamed by Australia’s biggest telco.

    And although Telstra has only sub-licenced the digital rights from Fox Sports – and presumably could have done so ever since the latest broadcast deal was originally signed in December 2016 – anything that gets football in front of more fans is a good thing for our game.

    Which is precisely why the World Cup is such an opportunity for the FFA.

    The game in this country might have its problems, but Aussies genuinely care about the performance of the national team at the world’s most popular sporting event.

    And if it helps the A-League win a few new fans along the way, so much the better.

    That’s why it was no surprise to see Melbourne City wunderkind Daniel Arzani named in Australia’s provisional World Cup squad.

    There were eyebrows raised when the fleet-footed teenager missed the Socceroos’ recent friendlies against Norway and Colombia – not least over legitimate fears the Iranian-born youngster could be called up by his birth nation instead.

    But having declared his allegiance to the Socceroos, it doesn’t take a genius to suggest that Arzani will almost certainly be on his way to Russia as part of Australia’s 23-man squad.

    That’s despite the fact that the Socceroos’ interim coach Bert van Marwijk doesn’t strike anyone as the type to necessarily follow orders.

    Bert van Marwijk

    The issue of whether van Marwijk will actually take Arzani to Russia is an interesting one, because it begs the question of whether a temporary hire should only focus on short-term goals, or act in the broader interests of the Australian game.

    The Dutchman probably feels entitled to tell the FFA to sod off should they have suggested to select Arzani – especially after the way van Marwijk left Saudi Arabia – however it’s clearly in the Socceroos’ best interests to have Arzani wearing green and gold colours.

    At any rate, having the Socceroos strut their stuff on the world stage once again is the latest sugar hit that comes around once every four years.

    The tricky thing now – and this has been the FFA’s problem from day one – is how to convert some of the viewers who watch the World Cup on TV into match-going, merch-buying, broadcast-viewing A-League fans.

    Maybe that’s why Fox Sports has decided once again to chip in $3 million of its own funds towards a marquee player ‘war chest’.

    It’s a pity it won’t land outgoing Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta – the close links between Barca’s major sponsor Rakuten and the Rakuten-owned Vissel Kobe suggest he’s off to the J.League – but some genuine star names are desperately needed in the A-League, no matter how much the purists deny that simple fact.

    A-League clubs could do worse than trying to land out-of-contract Japanese star Keisuke Honda – although we all know how averse our clubs are to signing Asian talent.

    But something needs to give if the A-League is to avoid a repeat of one of the most difficult campaigns in memory.

    And it can start with the Socceroos. They may not win the World Cup in Russia, but they can at least remind the sceptics that Aussies know how to play football.

    Mike Tuckerman
    Mike Tuckerman

    Mike Tuckerman is a Sydney-born journalist and lifelong football fan. After lengthy stints watching the beautiful game in Germany and Japan, he settled in Brisbane, and has been a leading Roar football columnist since December 2008.

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    The Crowd Says (96)

    • May 11th 2018 @ 7:35am
      peeko said | May 11th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      The world knows we can play

    • May 11th 2018 @ 7:35am
      DAN said | May 11th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Watching the A league to see next Mooy or Matt ryan should be a reason for people to watch the a league already

      • May 11th 2018 @ 12:20pm
        Kangajets said | May 11th 2018 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

        How do we entice people to do that ?

    • Roar Rookie

      May 11th 2018 @ 7:50am
      Waz said | May 11th 2018 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      In short, even winning the World Cup wouldn’t help the domestic game IF we don’t get our act together. It’s a more fragmented game than at anytime, and the FFA knows it – the return to high profile marquees is an old strategy, and it’s designed to get “theatre goer” fans out and watching. As usual it’ll be a short term sugar hit but unless Gallop can get the 2,000/game missing football fans back next season, marquees will prove pointless.

      The WC plays a crucial part in a 4 year cycle, it should be the launch pad for the next four years of the games development, this year it feels more like a necessary distraction from domestic woes.

      If football in this country were a Boeing passenger plane with Löwe as Captain and Gallop the willing co-pilot, the overwhelming sound inside the cockpit would be “pull up … pull up …. pull up”. The WC must not distract the FFA from the shambles domestic football is turning in to. Not even signing Keisuke Honda can change that.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 8:02am
        chris said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Waz in a way this is the season we had to have. It’s lit a rocket up the FFA to do SOMETHING and they appear to be responding with expansion and marquee funds being made available.
        WSW will get a new stadium soon (balanced out by SFC losing theirs for a few seasons) and that should bring back the Wanderers who have had to endure the souless showground at Homebush.
        With 2 new clubs coming in, a World Cup year, new stadium(s), grass roots participation growing (and growing) the fertile ground is there for the A-League to grow.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 11th 2018 @ 8:23am
          Waz said | May 11th 2018 @ 8:23am | ! Report

          Agree on “the season we had to have” no one can be in any doubt change is needed, can they?

          • May 11th 2018 @ 9:11am
            chris said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

            Well I certainly don’t. This is a dynamic time for football and we can’t have people at FFA asleep at the wheel and only concerned about their position and their pay packet. The demographics of who watches what and the way they consume it is shifting. Its changing from being told what to watch (msm) to determining what we want to watch (streaming, social media etc).
            Football appeals to the young because of its global exposure and FFA need to get on board and shift the way that they think.
            Stop pandering to the msm and to the people who want to sanitise the football experience to be like the snore fest that sitting in a stadium watching the other codes is.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 12:25pm
        Kangajets said | May 11th 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

        Waz

        In the end , the Ffa doesn’t play the game on the field. On field excitement is essential. We have a competition where 6-7 teams are very hard to watch .

        • Roar Rookie

          May 11th 2018 @ 10:35pm
          Waz said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

          The FFA control the competition.

          They do the marketing.
          They are hostile to foreign owners who could genuinely buy exciting talent.
          The ffa blew (wasted) millions on Cahill.
          They gave us Yoshi. And the summer of football. And “The Chase”.
          The ffa stuffed up expansion.
          The ffa prevent transfers and loans.
          The ffa fo the scheduling where teams play at home one week and away fur the next four.
          The ffa choose the time and day games kick off, often inconvenient to fans.
          The ffa say the A league model is “broken”, how can it thrive then?

          But yeah, it’s only about excitement on the pitch.

      • May 12th 2018 @ 6:32am
        Jordan said | May 12th 2018 @ 6:32am | ! Report

        Just completed the stadium survey Waz. Can you please tell me what your own personal vision for Roar’s home would be?

    • May 11th 2018 @ 9:24am
      Lee said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      As an Australian rugby union and cricket fan I wish France, Denmark and Peru the best of luck against the Socceroos. The damage done to my preferred sports if the Socceroos do well is obvious so I cannot and will not support them. Many of us on the North Shore feel the same. On the other hand I was most encouraged by the fiasco that was the recently finished a league season.

      • Columnist

        May 11th 2018 @ 9:51am
        Mike Tuckerman said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        You must be the life of the party.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 11th 2018 @ 9:57am
        Waz said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        How very un-Australian of you!!!

        And there was I thinking support for assoc football was over-rated in this sunburnt land; clearly it’s not as people on “the North Shore” are quaking in their beds at the prospects of a successful Socceroos World Cup

        • May 11th 2018 @ 10:20am
          chris said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

          Lee doesnt realise that the damage to Rugby is terminal and there is no coming back. Not unless you want 50% islanders playing the game? Nothing wrong with that but that is not sustainable in the long term and will not appeal to the North Shore types.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 9:58am
        Pauly said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        People like you make me happy when the All Blacks win the Bledisloe. How long has it been now, 16, 17 years???

        • May 11th 2018 @ 11:00am
          lunchboxexpert said | May 11th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          Realistically even if Australia perform well at this World Cup that corresponds to two losses and a draw. That is very unlikely (given results from last 5 World Cups) to be enough to get them off the bottom of the table.

          So for Australians like Lee, who like to see losing Australian teams in sports they don’t follow, and given the likely poor performance of Australia at next years Rugby Worp Cup and the long road back for Australian Cricket, it is going to be a case of Schadenfreude all round.

          • May 11th 2018 @ 3:13pm
            chris said | May 11th 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

            So basically what you’re saying is that any international team sport that has a modicum of other countries playing, we’re garbage at?

            • May 11th 2018 @ 3:59pm
              Kangajets said | May 11th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

              Chris

              Aussie’s go ok proportionate to population size in a lot of sports imo

      • May 11th 2018 @ 10:19am
        concerned supporter said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        Lee,
        I think you are on your own, doubt that many other rugby people would support you, North Shore or otherwise.

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 10:29am
        Grobbelaar said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        Lee
        that is extremely unpatriotic of you.

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 10:53am
        Ben of Phnom Penh said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

        The North Shore? You from Darwin?

      • May 11th 2018 @ 10:58am
        Floreat Pica said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:58am | ! Report

        Lee, going fishing like this simply reveals how little relevance Rugby has in the hearts-and-minds of the masses today wherever ‘the North Shore’ is?- Weipa?

      • May 11th 2018 @ 11:22am
        fadida said | May 11th 2018 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Rugby union is dying in this sunburnt land Lee. Israel Folau is doing wonders as a spokesperson for Union, ensuring it will remain the runt of the codes.

        Domestic cricket is watched by none in this sunburnt land, test cricket is creaking, scandals around ball tampering and bogun behavior have ruined any lasting myth around it being a gentleman’s game.

        • May 11th 2018 @ 4:40pm
          LuckyEddie said | May 11th 2018 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

          Folau is entitled to his opinion.

          • May 11th 2018 @ 7:22pm
            punter said | May 11th 2018 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

            Don’t agree with his opinion, but 100% agree, he is entitled to his opinion.

          • May 12th 2018 @ 6:35am
            Jordan said | May 12th 2018 @ 6:35am | ! Report

            Yes. People are entitled to their opinion in reply to his opinion. Thankfully everyone elses opinion has been an firm rejection of Folau’s homophobic religious nonsense.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 11:50am
        Matt said | May 11th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        I look forward to your satire Lee.
        C’mon people it’s too obvious to be serious.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 11:58am
        morebeer said | May 11th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      • May 11th 2018 @ 12:26pm
        Kangajets said | May 11th 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

        1-0 Australia v France with an arzani winner in the 85 th minute

      • Roar Guru

        May 11th 2018 @ 1:07pm
        Griffo said | May 11th 2018 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        If only you guys didn’t respond for once…at least. #DontFeedTheTrolls

        • May 11th 2018 @ 10:50pm
          Sam said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:50pm | ! Report

          Can’t help themselves

    • May 11th 2018 @ 9:26am
      Lionheart said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      I became a football fan after watching the 2006 World Cup. I’d never really followed the World Cup before, but I was quickly won over, and I’m an ex rugby both codes player and fan.
      I think FFA could advertise around the World Cup – get behind our team, get into this game, your club, whatever. But they don’t advertise, apart from on Fox where all the viewers on the Football channel are already fans anyway.
      I do think some of the clubs can do a lot better too. At Roar for example, the smaller crowds this past year are as much to do with team performance as they are FFA. A high performing club in Brisbane with a core of local players will draw 20-30K fans on a regular basis, I’ve no doubt.

      • May 11th 2018 @ 10:17am
        chris said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        LH I hear what you’re saying. But when you have main stream media breathlessly talking about who may make the NSW state of origin side months out from the game whilst ignoring the biggest tournament on the planet what chance does football have?
        Do people not find it cringe worthy that we have state of origin news front and centre of news reports of what the coach thinks or who might play half back etc etc?
        It’s a 2 horse race played by 2 states in the same country. How could you possibly think that is some huge sporting achievement by winning it?
        You can blame FFA for lack of advertising but football gets very little in the way of free passes regarding advertising on free to air media.

        • May 11th 2018 @ 10:29am
          Lionheart said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          yes, it is cringeworthy and it’s a joke, mass coverage of Origin
          Crowds are down, they were giving away tickets last year, and NRL crowds are down. There’s hope.

          • May 12th 2018 @ 6:13pm
            c said | May 12th 2018 @ 6:13pm | ! Report

            concussion sports have a limited future

    • May 11th 2018 @ 9:57am
      Pauly said | May 11th 2018 @ 9:57am | ! Report

      Keisuke Honda’s free? Alright HAL clubs, as they said in the Wolf of Wall Street, PICK UP THE PHONE AND START DIALLING!

      • May 11th 2018 @ 10:18am
        chris said | May 11th 2018 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        lol…love that movie!

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