June 2, 2001
The very words conjure up feelings of abuse or laughter. To some they are a necessary evil, to others they are the very foundations on which the game is laid. The reality is that at grass roots level – and lets face it that’s where most of us experience the beautiful game – to be a football administrator involves countless selfless & unpaid hours, neglecting home & family life to further enhance the enjoyment of the game for people who do nothing but criticise. Often – nay, usually – there are no thanks for the time, effort and expense which our administrators experience in trying to help. But as soon as things go wrong, don’t the knockers knock?
Take the experiences of a certain Mr Charles Dempsey CBE, over the past twelve months or so. Charlie was at the centre of controversy for abstaining from voting for the host of the 2006 World Cup, probably the most important vote a FIFA congressman takes every four years. As soon as the public was made aware of each vote, Charlie was slaughtered by the media for his abstention. He was front page news around the globe in football playing and non-football playing nations alike. He “single handedly denied the African continent their right” we were told. “He’s old and senile” we were told, “How could he go against his Oceania mandate?” we were asked. The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, & the Minister for Sport Trevor whatsisname, both wasted no time in jumping on the Anti-Charlie bandwagon – though exactly what the hell it had to do with either of them is anybody’s guess. He and his family were vilified and hounded, until Charlie was left with little choice but to resign.
Not a word was said about the TWELVE administrators who actually voted against South Africa. No that was okay but Charlie ABSTAINED. Disgraceful isn’t it? Well how about this – maybe he abstained because the Oceania mandate was patently wrong but rather than go against that mandate, he avoided voting for it?
The last twelve months in South Africa have been a catalogue of footballing disaster. Riot after riot, stampede after stampede, death after death. In the last month alone we have had 130 dead in Accra Ghana, 1 death in the Ivory Coast, 8 deaths in Congo and 43 in Johannesburg – the would be host of the 2006 World Cup Final. Put simply, South Africa were never, ever capable of hosting the world cup and nor are they likely to be in the next ten years. The worlds greatest event – sports, religious or otherwise – would have ended in tragedy. We ALL know that, and whether we like it or not Charles Dempseys’ abstention saved our sport from ridicule.
Have Ms Clark & Mr Whatsisname come out and thanked Charlie for saving us? Is he on the frontpage of newspapers around the world? NO.
Funny that. Who ever thanked an administrator anyway?
April 21, 2001
Comment by the thinker
Last week, in Coffs Harbour Australia, the first stage of four was completed in the Oceania World Cup qualifying campaign.
Australia reserves – No Kewell No Viduka No Schwarzer No Zelic No Okon No Laziridis No Bosnich etc etc – successfully negotiated their way to a likely play off with New Zealand in June, by scoring 66 goals in 4 matches and conceding none. We all saw the results and laughed as Oz hammered teams by 31 and 22 goal margins. For some of us it brought back memories of that day back in 1981 when the All Whites put 13 put Fiji. Against American Samoa, Marconi’s Kiwi-born Archie Thompson scored 13 on his own.
But what are the effects of such results???
For a small confederation fighting to gain acceptance on the world stage, the results were a disaster. After all can anyone really take Oceania seriously with such results? We (OFC) are a laughing stock. Yes, I know big results happen all over the place… Belgium put 10 past San Marino and Iran scored 19 against Guam just to name a couple, but these confederations have tough competition at the top level. In what is known worldwide as the smallest & weakest confederation, it was detrimental to our image at a crucial time.
At the moment we are in with a real chance of being allocated a direct qualifying spot for Germany 2006. FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper has gone on official record as saying it is a “done deal”. That might settle the issue for some, but I have seen many a “done deal” fall apart before, and I can’t see the other FIFA confederations lining up to give us one of their places. Ideally, Oceania needed a qualifying campaign which
- was closely fought – because it attracts interest and gives the impression that there is some strength in the region and
- had – dare I say it – Australia qualifying because they are the one team which Oceania can market successfully. The players mentioned above are household names around the world and the world can identify them.
New Zealand are currently not capable of beating the 5th placed South American country to qualify. Australia are. If we want some good press for Oceania in order to secure a direct spot, it is best that Oz qualifies and goes on to perform well at the finals. Short term pain, long term gain if you like. Oz have achieved some great results on the world stage in the last couple of years. Oceania needed to turn this to their advantage. Sadly the chance may have been missed. Here’s hoping that FIFA don’t decide that we are a “one team” confederation not worth a spot.
Its already been said but I’ll say it anyway. We need a preliminary round as Africa and CONCACAF have. The 8 island nations play off with the top 2 joining Oz and New Zealand in a final group played on a home and away basis. Fiji have shown they can be competitive. Perhaps Vanuatu can too. The end result would be a reasonably competitive final group. I expect Oz would win it but it wouldn’t be the stroll last week was.
And to the rest of the world we wouldn’t look like complete numpties.