Tuesday, June 27, 2006

For Australian soccer, it’s the end of the beginning …

Australia is out of the World Cup competition – for now.

After 93 minutes of being the better team playing clearly a better game, the Socceroos were victim to what was clearly a questionable decision by the referee. Star player Lucas Neill was the victim of a questionable tackle decision which led to the Italians being granted a penalty kick at close range.

Totti took the kick, and even the legendary Australian goalkeeper Schwartzer couldn’t stop the ball from crashing into the net.

The Italians move into the next round. But the Australians are by no means out of international football. For the Socceroos, this is the end of the beginning of their rise onto the world football stage.

In the race for football supremacy in Australia, soccer has always had to play fourth fiddle to the more popular codes of AFL, NRL and Rugby. Despite being the pre-eminent world game, soccer rarely gained more than a cult following in Australia.

When the late Socceroos captain and SBS commentator Johnny Warren wrote the definitive story of Australian soccer, he chose to name it after the numerous insults he would have experienced at school playing the game.

Back in the mid-1980’s, those of us keen on playing “wog-ball” on the rooftop playground at St Andrews Cathedral School were the butt of more jokes concerning our sexuality than even the choristers. Despite being played mostly with feet, soccer wasn’t considered real football.

At club level, Aussie soccer was regarded as a game for Central and Eastern European migrants who insisted on keeping irrelevant forms of ethnic chauvinism alive. Soccer clubs were named after foreign cities and countries, and games were characterised by ethnic feuds and violence between players and supporters alike.

That was then. But now, Australian soccer’s true believers have been exonerated. In particular, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has enjoyed record ratings and a financial windfall from the success of Australia at the World Game.

The Socceroos played superbly throughout the tournament. In their first game against Japan, they came from behind to win the match in a blitz of goals from Cahill. Against Croatia, they performed brilliantly to keep one of the game’s veterans drawn at 2-all.

Against the Italians, the Socceroos looked like winning the game. They had possession of the ball for well over 50% of the time. Their defence work was superb, and on numerous occasions did Mark Schwartzer stop a sure Italian goal.

In fact, Schwartzer rarely had much work to do in this game. The Socceroo forwards more often than not found themselves breathing down the necks of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, testing the Italian goalie’s skills on numerous occasions with plenty of strikes.

As the game moved into extra time in the second and final half, the Aussies looked set to join the top 8 soccer teams in the world. However, in a piece of questionable refereeing, Lucas Neill was found to have tackled an Italian striker. 20 million Australians were punished as a result.

The Socceroos’ progress would never have been possible had it not been for the ongoing support of SBS. Monoculturalists who keep attacking the multicultural and multilingual broadcaster should keep this in mind before they pen their next column for a News Limited broadsheet.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

19 comments:

Augustus said...

and to add to Irf's lack of understanding of politics, religion and culture, he now demonstrates his ignorance of the beautiful game. Your assessment of the game smacks of a temporary passenger on the football bandwagon trying to remain relevant in a world constantly reminding you of your irrelevance.

Lisa said...

Australia deserved a penalty shootout to finish the match and it's an indictment of FIFA's biased umpiring towards the "top footbal" nations that the end came about this way.

I'm not sure the popularity of the World Cup needs to policised as you have, though. People would have watched it regardless of what channel it was one -- because it was the World Cup -- and because we have some truly stellar players in the Roos squad!

BS said...

Perhaps Irf's demonstrated lack of understanding of football is representative of the sub-continent's lack of footballing flair, talent and success over any period.

Lets dissect his dissertation on last nights game.


"The Socceroos’ progress would never have been possible had it not been for the ongoing support of SBS."

It has infact been the Foxtel's commitment to both the Australian A-League and various foreign leagues that has prompted the mainstream rise of football's popularity. SBS has played their part but let's not forget the incessant political meddling that SBS personalities have been involved in at every level of the game that unquestionably helped to maintain football's mediocrity in Australia.

"After 93 minutes of being the better team playing clearly a better game,"

Reality is that the Socceroos only gained dominance in the second half when Italy were reduced to 10 men. Don't get me wrong, the Australian boys played a masterful game in a true Australian dogged manner, an effort of which they should be proud, however, the italians were pure class throughout.

"the Socceroos were victim to what was clearly a questionable decision by the referee. Star player Lucas Neill was the victim of a questionable tackle decision"

A true reflection of the event. However, not an original thought.

"which led to the Italians being granted a penalty kick at close range."

All penalties are taken from the same spot, all the time, in every instance. Where else would they be granted a shot?

"The Italians move into the next round. But the Australians are by no means out of international football."

Well, duh! Did we expect that Football Australia was just going to shut up shop after this game?

"For the Socceroos, this is the end of the beginning of their rise onto the world football stage."

No, this is the true beginning after many a false start.

"When the late Socceroos captain and SBS commentator Johnny Warren wrote the definitive story of Australian soccer, he chose to name it after the numerous insults he would have experienced at school playing the game."

Read the book, it was a lghthearted, anecdotal memoir, which wasnever intended to be, nor is it the definitive story of Australian Soccer.

"Back in the mid-1980’s, those of us keen on playing “wog-ball” on the rooftop playground at St Andrews Cathedral School were the butt of more jokes concerning our sexuality than even the choristers. Despite being played mostly with feet, soccer wasn’t considered real football."

Is this another attempt at retrospective relevance Irf?

"At club level, Aussie soccer was regarded as a game for Central and Eastern European migrants who insisted on keeping irrelevant forms of ethnic chauvinism alive."

What about the Anglo-Celtic and jewish participants that have always played a major role?

"Soccer clubs were named after foreign cities and countries, and games were characterised by ethnic feuds and violence between players and supporters alike."

Or was it that mainstream media played up sporadic incidents?

"That was then. But now, Australian soccer’s true believers have been exonerated."

Exonerated or vindicated? Why don't you ask them how they really feel? Or don't you know any?

"In particular, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) has enjoyed record ratings and a financial windfall from the success of Australia at the World Game."

Yes. And...

"The Socceroos played superbly throughout the tournament. In their first game against Japan, they came from behind to win the match in a blitz of goals from Cahill. Against Croatia, they performed brilliantly to keep one of the game’s veterans drawn at 2-all."

That's true, but we've all read that in the Murdoch press. Those of us who are true football aficionados witnessed it first hand.

"Against the Italians, the Socceroos looked like winning the game."

As did the Italians on many occassions. What's your point?


"They had possession of the ball for well over 50% of the time."

yes, but true followers of the game well know that possession is not king in football.

"Their defence work was superb,"

It was at times outstanding. Lucas Neil is a true giant of the game.

"and on numerous occasions did Mark Schwartzer stop a sure Italian goal.

In fact, Schwartzer rarely had much work to do in this game."

Well which is it? Either he made many saves or he had little to do. the two comments directly contradict each other.

"The Socceroo forwards more often than not found themselves breathing down the necks of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, testing the Italian goalie’s skills on numerous occasions with plenty of strikes."

What game were you watching? Even Guus Hiddink argued that this was Australia's main flaw. Their lack of effectiveness in the penalty box.

As the game moved into extra time in the second and final half,"

The game never went into extra time. Were we to expect more than two halves? My maths is not that good but...

"the Aussies looked set to join the top 8 soccer teams in the world. However, in a piece of questionable refereeing, Lucas Neill was found to have tackled an Italian striker. 20 million Australians were punished as a result."

You see, the true believers are of the opinion that they were blessed with a mighty tussle, a beautiful game and an imeasurable sense of pride in the Aussie fighting spirit. We were not punished, we were vindicated. We were not shamed, we were proud. We didn't give up, we wondered in bliss what could have been and what will definitely be to come.

I have argued that there is room on the bandwagon for everyone. In fact as a true football fanatic with a proven history in the game, I prayed that Australia would join in my passion. Perhaps though, the new passengers should demonstrate some humility and not try to be overnight experts.

Invig said...

Hey there Irfan,

I liked your piece in crikey.

I reckon its all founded on Americas, and by extension, people like Rupert's, wish to be able to 'look at themselves in the mirror' by blaming everyone else for their system's failings.

Anyways, I try to explain it here...
http://invig.livejournal.com/tag/murdoch

Eagle said...

I hope you find your planet real soon, as you have no idea of the game - soccer. A man who wears a Wallaby jersey everywhere he goes to show he is an Australian.

Nor do you know how muslims treat people of non muslim background in their Countries, like Turkey, Pakistan etc .. tell me how many Christians live in Turkey and how many schools or parishes are actually functioning.

Law Student said...

Under the governments new anti terrorism legislation, all the Italians living in the inner western sydney suburb of Leichhardt aka "little itlay" should be shipped back to italy for their un-australian-ness whilst celebrating italy's undeserved victory.

Anonymous said...

Hey "Eagle" - How about you go soar back to where ever you came from?

Or, better yet, go soar around the world and learn a little, you ignorant fool. Your comment is a typical racist one. Seriously, Neighbours can come up with more creative and original story lines.

Grow up and get a life you whinger. Do you know how Muslims are treated in non-Muslim countries ...? Or better yet, do you know how dogs treat cats, or cats treat mice, or blah blah blah ....

Anonymous said...

Time to memorise the new lingo
Richard Glover
June 24, 2006

Irfan Smartyrants: An instant expert who saw his first soccer game two weeks ago, but already knows everything about the game, as in the phrase: "Ah, Ecuador - they're good, but they can only really play at altitude."

Anonymous said...

Some of you Hellenic fascists, shonky Lebanese property developers from Cherrybrook and their NSW Young Lib allies here obviously have difficulty reading.

Irf clearly said he has been playing soccer since primary school.

Irf, for the benefit of dimwits here, can you write your posts in Latin? And throw in some child porn so the boys here can somehow relate it back to their religion ...

Silas is Great!!

BS said...

Ahh, but anonymous, read Irf's posts long enough and you will soon realise that just because Irf says he's been playing soccer since primary school doesn't mean its true. Anything more than a cursory glance at this site will demonstrate that if Irf writes it, its almost certainly not true.

Law Student said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BS said...

Law student? Is that Sharia law or are you a living example of the law of atrophy?

Irfan said...

BS, thank you for all the effort you are putting into my single posting. You obviously regard my 4am efforts at soccer post morteming as being worthy of your attention at all hours of the day.

I am truly honoured by your attention. But before you go any further, do tell what your initials stand for ...

BS said...

Why don't you tell us what it stands for? After all, you chose the moniker.

I appreciate that I have gotten under your skin enough that not only have you felt the need to manufacture stories about me but also single out my responses to your dribble for specific comment.'

Irf, you know who i am. I know who you are. We both know that the majority of what you write here is fiction, lies or exxageration. The rest is revsionism. You and I also know that most who visit this site know who we both are and were generally first hand participants in the events which you so colourfully misrepresent. My question is why do you bother to lie to people who know the truth?

What really is the point?

Anonymous said...

BS, you sound like you are on drugs. Does your surname start with a D and end in a Y?

Law Student said...

To: BS, the BullShit anonymous commentator...in fact it's Anglo-Australian law, which suprisingly has over time acquired numerous elements of the shariah.

Anonymous said...

LONG LIVE HABASH AND THE PFLP!

Anonymous said...

No wonder this blog is so popular. It has absolutely everything. No doubt we will soon learn the precise location of Osama Bin Laden from his hairdresser.

Law Student said...

Irfan, have you came across the comments made on friday by Rupert Murdoch on Islam...?