October 27, 2015

Horse 2017 - The Real Reason Wellington Phoenix Were Ejected From The A-League

The Board of Football Federation Australia (FFA) has determined that an application from Wellington Phoenix for a 10-year licence extension to compete in the Hyundai A-League will not be granted.
The current licence term under the Club Participation Agreement (CPA) for Wellington Phoenix expires at the end of the Hyundai A-League 2015/16 season.
Under the CPA, the Club has the option of requesting that FFA lodge an application to the relevant football authorities to seek approval of Phoenix’s participation in the Hyundai A-League until the conclusion of the 2019/20 season.

Such an application is required in order to seek exemptions from various statutes of Football New Zealand, Oceania Football Confederation, Asian Football Confederation and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
FFA CEO David Gallop said the Board decision was taken in the best interests of Australian football.
- Football Australia, 26th Oct 2015

This is the news that the Wellington Phoenix has effectively been booted out of the A-League at the end of the season. This is disappointing but not completely unexpected. I suspect that pressure was brought to bear on Football Australia by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and FIFA; notwithstanding the fact that I suspect that FIFA and the AFC are both racist organisations.

I think that it says something that even the United States which is a nation which doesn't really care about football, currently has it's Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division and the Attorney General's Department lookinh into mass fraud, money laundering and racketeering. So far, 18 individuals and two football confederations have either been accused, investigated or indicted for corruption.
FIFA isn't a case of a few rotten apples spoiling the bushel. FIFA is a case of the most of the bushel of apples being rotten and struggling to find a good one.
Although the AFC hasn't been implicated in the corruption scandal, it still makes you wonder about what is going on.

I for one wonder about the legitimacy of the process which saw Russia awarded the 2018 World Cup and Qatar the 2022 World Cup; particularly when you consider that Qatar has never qualified for the World Cup, had a population of less than a million when they were awarded the tournament, didn't even have plans to build five stadiums let alone the ten usually demanded by FIFA, and that during June and July when a World Cup is usually held, the overnight low temperatures hover around 29°C in the capital of Doha. Qatar wants to hold the 2022 World Cup in December despite this interfering with most countries' regular seasons and the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations which was scheduled to be held two weeks later.
One wonders how much oil money came to bear on FIFA.

That aside, some nations in the AFC really started to resent Australia's admission into the confederation after Australia "stole" a qualification spot in first the 2010 and then 2014 World Cups. In 2006 the AFC had four spots and Australia qualified for the World Cup via the half spot alotted to the OFC and South America. When Australia joined the AFC in 2007, it immediately then qualified for the 2007 AFC Asian Cup and then the 2011 tournament, then took one of the AFC's four spots for the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups.
In the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, Australia lost the final 1-0 to Japan and then this year in 2015, Australia beat South Korea in the final, 2-1 in extra time.

Even before the 2015 Asian Cup had ended, AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa who is the President of the Asian Football Confederation, fired a shot across the bows of Football Australia, despite the fact that the 2015 Asian Cup was easily the best organised and the best attended in the tournament's 59 year history:

The president of Asia's football governing body says Gulf nations want the Socceroos expelled from the continental confederation.

"There are indications that prove that such desire exists among the confederations of west Asia to evict Australia. But I also know that the Arabs are not the only ones who are not convinced that Australia's membership in Asia's football is feasible."
- AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa, - ABC News, 30th Jan 2015

I suspect that David Gallop has hidden a deeper truth in plain sight. By saying that the decision to reject the Wellington Phoenix' further participation in the A-League "was taken in the best interests of Australian football" I think that he might be saying as diplomatically as possible, that the AFC have a hammer and are threatening to smash Football Australia's fingers, whose hands are tied.
Wellington Phoenix, which is a club from New Zealand, complicates the AFC/OFC relationship and I suspect that the AFC would rather see the OFC cast adrift entirely.

Mind you, I don't understand why the AFC doesn't apply to FIFA to absorb the OFC in its entirety. The OFC does have 14 member confederations but once you remove Papua New Guinea with 7.0 million people and New Zealand with 4.5 million people, the rest of the confederation only contains 2.5 million people; which is less than the population of Sydney.
If the AFC were to absorb the OFC, it could claim that its 61 member nations are worth far more than the pathetic 4 spots that it currently gets. I think that the AFC is resentful that UEFA which has 54 member nations gets 13 spots and that CONMEBOL which is responsible for South America, has only 10 member nations but got 6 spots at the 2014 World Cup.

What I suspect has happened is that rather than persuade FIFA which it knows is a corrupt organisation, the AFC has bullied Football Australia into conforming to its will because it knows that it could very easily rustle up the Gulf nations to eject Australia from the confederation.
The fact that AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim al-Khalifa specifically mentioned the Arabs, indicates to me that if an expulsion order was tabulated at an AFC meeting, it would go down racial lines; probably also as retribution for Australia's ties with the United States.

This ejection of the Wellington Phoenix does mean that the A-League will be reduced to 9 clubs unless Football Australia either creates a new startup or allows new clubs in. I don't currently see anything on the horizon other than to say that the ACT, Tasmanian and Northern Territory governments have all expressed their interest in supporting clubs in the past and that the Northern Territory currently has no sporting teams in any national competition.

“The application for a 10-year extension to the licence does not meet the requirements we see as fundamental to the future growth of the Hyundai A-League.”
- Football Australia CEO, David Gallop

I would think that one of the requirements that the FFA sees as fundamental to the future growth of the Hyundai A-League, is the continued membership of Australia in the AFC. I think that's what's made Gallop play his hand in the way that he has. That and the possibility of having his fingers smashed by the AFC's very large hammer.

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