The active support for the Socceroos has been very poor of late. This is no fault of those who give up their time, travel up and down the country to create an atmosphere our national team deserve. Many fans have spent hundreds of dollars attending games in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Newcastle to see their beloved Socceroos but the atmosphere has resembled a library at times, not a ground filled with over 20,000 passionate football fans.
So who is to blame for this ‘Active Supporter’ mess? Many parties must take blame for their role for the perceived lack of support. Away nationals have received superior support compared to the Socceroos throughout the tournament and this should be a catalyst for yet another change in the way we must organise our active support.
Firstly the FFA must have nothing to do with the ‘Active Support’. We have seen through their handling of many active supporter issues surrounding various A-League clubs and you cannot have this organisation responsible for the active supporter group. An independent body must work alongside the FFA to improve the active support but must be a separate entity at all times. As soon as the FFA gets involved in active support problems begin to surface and many issues are drowned out due to the political nature of the relationship between the FFA and many club supporter groups. The FFA must govern and control the game in Australia, any disciplinary issue raised with fans should be played out independently. Otherwise a perceived dictatorship from the FFA over the fans will shadow any efforts made by genuine fans and our active support will once again dwindle.
Some have suggested we get the ‘Capo’s’ from each A-League club and united supporters. This is a terrible suggestion. Some involved at club level don’t support the Socceroos team as passionately as they do their domestic club. We also may have club issues getting involved in the support for our national team which we don’t want. When you see the passion portrayed in the Melbourne or Sydney derbies you cannot expect the two opposing parties to get together and work alongside one another.
Ticketing is the biggest issue than hamstrings the work of any supporter group. When active supporter tickets are released they are released to the general public, meaning anyone can purchase these tickets. Active tickets are predominately the cheapest tickets available and sometimes the easiest to acquire. Any fan that is faced with the dilemma of either purchasing a ticket in the active area, or missing out on the game cannot be blamed for picking up an active ticket. Regardless of who is sitting in the stadium, providing the ‘SOLD OUT’ sign appears, the FFA and organisers appear very happy with the success of every Socceroos game played at the Asian Cup. An active Socceroos membership could alleviate this problem but like anything could be easily exploited. Attracting the appropriate clientele into the active area will always remain a major problem in Australia.
Problems are many and solutions are thin when attempting to again fix the Socceroos supporter problems. Many have already tried, and others continually find themselves coming up against these same problems and slowly losing patience.
Saturday we are hosting the Asian Cup Final with our Socceroos competing with no overwhelming active support. Those in Sydney will be doing their best to become that 12th man on the pitch to support our national team but without any real organisation we cannot reach the noise of the Iranian, Japanese and Chinese fans. We shouldn’t be having this conversation 72 hours before we host our biggest Socceroos game in 10 years.
This is a pathetic indictment on how active support has been treated in the past by those running the game in Australia and I see no end in sight in the battle for active support for our Socceroos.Google+