|The Socceroos and China in action in a|
World Cup Qualifier in Sydney in 2008
It is unlikely, however, that the FFA will strike it rich if it goes ahead with a plan for three-match “Ashes” style series against China next year.
The idea is the brainchild of Geoff Prenter, the man who revolutionised the domestic cricket scene as the promoter of the domestic one-day competition. Earlier in his career Prenter founded Rugby League Week magazine, which is now a must-read for many Rugby League diehards.
It’s fair to say that most things he has touched have turned to gold. This, in my opinion, wont be one of them.
Given the tight international calendar, “series” tournaments simply are not possible, with international tournaments such as the AFC Asian Cup and FIFA World Cup filling those roles. National teams only have small windows in which to play their games, so three games in 15 days is not possible if you want to attract full-strength teams.
Aside from that the main reason the idea is destined to fail is the lack of history or rivalry with China.
I challenge any person to find any meaningful history between China and Australia, on or off the pitch that would allow this idea to capture the attention of the Australian public and make it a game people desperately want to win.
It doesn’t exist.
The Ashes works because of the history between the two countries, dating back to England’s colonisation of Australia in 1788.
The wider Australian public has little time, or respect, for Asian Football. It is still viewed by many as insignificant and “below” Australia. In fact many people express surprise that Asian nations even play Football, much less be any good at it.
In recent times Australia is developing a healthy rivalry with Japan, with classic contests at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and 2007 and 2011 AFC Asian Cups. If a series against any Asian side was to work it would be against Japan.
FFA CEO Ben Buckley has said the idea is “worth considering” given that it would grow the links between the two nations.
Prenter believes casino sponsorship worth $500,000 a game could be obtained, which is ironic because concept would be one massive gamble for the FFA were they to go ahead with it.
Given the FFA’s precarious financial situation they would be playing the ultimate game of Roulette – staking what little money they have on Red (literally).
It’s a gamble that the Chinese took back in the 1850’s when they packed up and headed for the Victorian goldfields in the hope of striking it rich. Many did.
The FFA, however, are unlikely to achieve that same outcome.