Just how important is a win for the Socceroos to the future of soccer in Australia?
Introduction: Socceroos need a win!
Ross Greenwood: Yes, welcome back to Money News. At AAMI Stadium in Melbourne tonight, there is a big game for Australian football. The Socceroos are taking on Thailand and they must win if they are going to advance to the 2018 Russia World Cup. In other words, direct qualification. But not only do they have to win, but they then got to stop and wait, and see what takes place with Saudi Arabia taking on Japan that, of course, beat the Socceroos two nil. Let’s go now to AAMI Park in Melbourne. Shane McInnes from Macquarie Media is there covering it. Shane, thanks for your time, as always. This is a do-or-die event for the Socceroos tonight.
Interview with Shane McInnes, Macquarie Radio
Shane McInnes: Hey, Ross. You summed it up beautifully. It is a do-or-die match. They have to win, the Aussies, and they’ve got to go hell-for-weather because ultimately, even if Australia does win, they need a better goal differential than what Saudi Arabia currently has. The Aussies not only need to win tonight against Thailand, they need to win well. And they’ve gone with a fairly attacking lineup tonight.
So much at stake. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to get the job done in Japan last week. And now it comes here and you might think, “Oh, it’s Thailand. They’re at the bottom of the group.” Well, when we faced Thailand a year ago in Bangkok, that match finished in a draw at two all and the Aussies must do much better than that tonight.
Ross Greenwood: What do you reckon? What are they going to put past, four or five tonight, do you think, to make it worth their while and to make certain that the goal difference if Japan does win? Because that’s the key, Japan’s got to win. If Japan wins against Saudi Arabia, then that gives Australia, and the Socceroos, a chance.
Shane McInnes: Exactly. The best result possible is Japan winning, but even if Saudi Arabia was to win, as long as they’ve got a lower goal differential– the Socceroos, they’ve got to play for the worst-case scenario because they can’t see what they’re playing up against. Luckily for Saudi Arabia, later tonight or early tomorrow morning, they’ll be able to see what they have to do.
The Socceroos have to go out and score. They’ve got Aaron Mooy back who had a flu bug last week against Japan so he missed that match. He comes back tonight. Tim Cahill is in the starting 11 tonight. We know what kind of hero Tim Cahill is for the Socceroos. They start on the ground, the starting 11, and they can go gangbusters early.
It’ll be very interesting to see what Ange Postecoglou does. One thing’s for sure, Ross, if we can get the scores on the board, we’ll keep the crowd here warm. Seven degrees in Melbourne at the moment. A Feels Like temperature of three and a half.
Ross Greenwood: As cold as your great aunt’s kiss, I’ve got to tell you Shane McInness. As cold as your great aunt’s– Now, listen, one small thing, have people actually come out there? Because that’s what you wanted out is a massive crowd just making certain they get them across the line.
Shane McInnes: Yes. I was actually surprised it was at this venue, Ross, because Etihad Stadium which obviously has a roof, has about a capacity of 20,000 more. But they’ve gone for AAMI Park and they say it is sold out. However, I would be very surprised if it actually does end up being a sellout because there’s rain around, as I said, it’s bitterly cold and obviously a school night as well. But in saying that, good numbers. Plenty of Thai fans as well who’ve made the trip to Melbourne and no doubt plenty of interstate sales as well. So–
Ross Greenwood: I’d suggest many of those Thai players and fans have not seen seven degrees and rain in their lives. Shane McInnes.
Shane McInnes: It’s very different.
Ross Greenwood: There’s no doubt about that. Shane McInnes, Macquarie Media, covering that important match tonight. But there’s another aspect of this and this is actually the fact that it is vital that Australia does qualify for the Russia World Cup. Bear in mind, the sponsorship that the Socceroos’ bringing. Bear in mind the television rights that come as a result of being in the World Cup.
And also, being one of the highly profiled sides around the world. Think about the reputation of Australia as now a football nation. But while this is all taking place, there is a fight going on, a bitter fight, inside Australian football. And this is in regards to who should have the votes. The fact that the A-League generates most of the money, and now more of those A-League clubs in the broader community wants a bigger say in what takes place at the Football Federation of Australia.
So much so, that the football association, if you like, has had to come to Australia and try and intervene into what’s taking place. Ray Gatt has been following this, the sports editor at The Australian newspaper. Ray, it is an unholy fight, and of course, the Socceroos are right in the middle of this as they’re playing the Thais tonight.
Ray Gatt: Ross, it wouldn’t be Australian soccer without some political fight going on. I have been covering this game for over 40 years, and as always something political comes up. Yes, look, it’s a crazy situation at the moment. You summed it up pretty well. FIFA have intervened, they want the FFA to have a much broader voting structure. As it stands now, I think there’s 10 votes, nine of them for the state federations, and one for combined 10 A-League clubs. People want that to be expanded to about, I think 12, 4, 15 votes. It’s certainly– you’re right. It’s an unholy war at the moment.
Ross Greenwood: Okay, so just explain this. I’m presuming that if, say, for example the Socceroos, let’s say, were beaten tonight, that would really diminish in some ways the earning power and potential of the Socceroos, at least in the short term. That would give more power back to the A-League clubs, more power to those state-based administrations, potentially, and give them more, shall I say, armour to be able to throw at the Football Federation of Australia, run, of course, by Steven Lowy, Chief Executive of the Westfield Group.
Ray Gatt: Yes, exactly. It’s a tough situation. Look, if we qualify for the World Cup, it’s about $22 million that will come to the FFA’s coffers and that will help resolve a lot of things in their favour. But you’re right, if we don’t qualify– look, even if we don’t qualify in this lot, we still got two more playoffs to get to Russia. But if we don’t qualify, it’s going to be a mess. The A-League clubs are going to kick up the stink. They want their $6 million each a year from the FFA. The FFA only want to give them about three and a half, four million. We’re at a stand-off there at the moment.
Ross Greenwood: Does the fact that FIFA, which has being wrecked with corruption scandals and all that type of thing, that they have actually had to come to Australia and intervene in a domestic fight with the Football Federation of Australia. The irony is not lost on me over there. Is it lost on you, Ray?
Ray Gatt: No, not at all. It’s a crazy situation, Ross. Of all people intervening in a political mess when they’re– we know what they’re all about and troubles they’ve had over the last decade or so. It’s strange, but look, I think we’ve brought this on ourselves. This matter should’ve been solved ages ago with out any FIFA intervention. And though there hasn’t been a blight, not just on the FFA but everyone else involved, a few heads should’ve been knocked together and this should’ve been sorted out.
Ross Greenwood: Tell you what, Ray Gatt from The Australian, Sports Editor there. Always great to have you in the program, Ray, and I appreciate your time this evening.
Ray Gatt: Thanks, Ross. Cheers.