Even if you believe ethnicity isn’t relevant to supporting football, or think active support is for fans who don’t really care about what’s happening on the field, the string of recent decisions made by the Football Federation of Australia should still concern you deeply.
Bizarre in nature, they have revealed a disposition that panders to an unsustainable audience of non-football fans, in a way that alienates those of us who are fans of the sport.
I have previously expressed my cynicism towards the instinct for football fans to get up in arms by everything that inhibits them even slightly. Is it the football, or something else that they value? But even the most cynic of football fans can not ignore the underlying and hugely worrying issue at hand.
This World Cup has been immensely enjoyable, the talk of the town, and the Socceroos have performed admirably. Where some corporations might choose to ride this wave of good-will, and even build upon it, the FFA have identified this time as a perfect opportunity to provoke, anger and turn away Australian football fans.
Australia’s national footballing body have attempted to capitalise on hype surrounding the World Cup in two ways; firstly, to slide under the carpet outrageous decisions while no-one is looking; secondly, to permanently reel in the hordes of people who watch “the soccer” every four years.
Neither have, or will work.
The decision to place figurative hand-cuffs on the active support terraces of the A-League, with strict, over-the-top regulation, is a clear move to castrate football’s fan culture so as to prevent the odd bad news story.
Unfortunately, their ridiculously heavy handed move has thrown the baby out with the bath water – enraging fans across the league and threatening to derail the 2014/15 season. Meanwhile, “mainstream couldn’t give a flying f*** about soccer and its hooligan culture” Australia could not care less about the FFA’s overt attempt to suck up. As happy to progress ignorantly as they were before, they will continue to dislike our sport and that is their right.
This morning, the FFA has further outraged the community by announcing a “National Identity Policy”. The FFA have reiterated a previously all but official focus on wiping out traces of ethnicity and race from football clubs nationwide.
This has been an ongoing crusade, but in recent years, as the A-League has taken strides forward, things had started to settle down. Obviously, this would not do for the FFA, who have decided to make the policy official, and given it a name that makes it sound like some sort of fascist’s wet dream.
As much as I couldn’t care less about having my ethnicity represented by my football club (my like for Asian food and football are completely separate matters), I also couldn’t care less if other people feel such a desire. It is a mulitcultural world we live in, no?
So why have the FFA made such a move?
Because mainstream “couldn’t give a flying f*** about soccer and its ethnic culture” Australia doesn’t like people displaying affiliation to other nationalities. It’s as simple as that. They find it threatening to traditional Australian culture, fearing their love for meat pies and footy might disappear as rapidly as the Aboriginals.These are the sort of people that the FFA have decided to pander towards, at the expense of football fans.
They would have known, undoubtedly, that both announcements would seriously anger the football community – but decided to go ahead with them anyway. They’ve clearly made a calculated decision to target the mainstream market no matter the collateral damage.
And that is why you, a fan of football, perhaps not outraged by either policy in isolation, should be very concerned about how our sport is being handled.
It is as if the FFA have poked a bee’s nest in an attempt to show off their bravery to the more popular kids at school. But all that has resulted is an arm full of bee stings and even less friends.
Appealing to the mainstream is part and parcel of the A-League, and its conception. Supporting the league is therefore, to some extent, in support of that disposition. But the way in which the FFA is approaching this objective is simply unacceptable.
Follow the author of this piece on Twitter: @userlastname