Sunday, December 20, 2009


AFC v. the Kiwis

A curious but pertinent fact, which has been commented on elsewhere: the 2010 World Cup will be the first since 1974 not to feature a single team from the western half of Asia.

And it is that grim statistic for the Gulf nations which is surely behind the latest piece of blackmail from the AFC regarding Wellington Phoenix's participation in the A-League. It was New Zealand, of course, who knocked off the final West Asian hopeful, Bahrain, in a cross-conferedation playoff.

Whichever way you look at the AFC position, it comes across as petty and illogical. A club acting as a de facto national team? Aside from the fact that this is simply not true in the case of the Phoenix, it would hardly be a novelty. Think of the Soviet Union team at the 1986 World Cup, which was basically the Dinamo Kiev side of the great Valeri Lobanovski with "CCCP" on their shirts.

Professional experience in an "Asian league" for Kiwi players? The vast majority of the Phoenix squad were engaged in pro football before the club even existed. In any case, shorn of the legalities, the nub of this complaint would appear to be "how dare teams from Oceania be anything other than easybeat part-timers"?

And that, of course, brings us to the real point. Anyone with half a grain of sense can surely see that the best solution to the impasse is for the ridiculous Oceania confederation to be merged with the AFC; the barriers to this happening are political only.

Some sort of compromise will need to be reached, because the A-League can ill afford to lose the Phoenix at present.

it may be blackmail but it's likely to be effective blackmail

Despite the morality of the situation of kicking out Wellington from the A-league

If we had a choice to keep Wellington and no ACL action or kick out Wellington and keep our ACL status.

Then Wellington are most likely going to be kicked out. They may have an important status in the A-league but they are not that important.

Only an intervention from FIFA is going to save Wellington Phoenix now.
Sounds like Wellington will stay as 'Phoenix' and only play 5 with NZ passports.
How sustainable is a club that can only play 5 NZ players.

That means that someone like Paul Ifill have to be kicked out of the squad unless they are willing to play with only 4 NZ players. Would the NZ public except a team with 6+ Australian?

This will pretty much eliminate Wellington from buying any foreign and marquee players because the foreign spots have to be taken up by NZ
Running the Phoenix as an "Australian" club (with the foreigner quota etc.) would be quite impossible, and the AFC know that perfectly well.

No way should the FFA cave in to this bastardry. A word in Blatter's ear from Lowy might work wonders.
I think Australia are in a lose-lose situation here no matter what end up happening.

If we kick out Wellington then that will probably put Australia off side with FIFA and Sepp Blatter who wants New Zealand to have a professional team and want football to grow in that region.

If we used FIFA influence to step in and force AFC to accept Wellington in the A-league. We will damage our already fragile relationship with Asia (notice that our World Cup bids have been praised by every continent except from other Asian countries) and increased the likelihood of us being kicked out of the ACL or even the AFC itself. FIFA may be able to force AFC to accept Wellington Phoenix in the A-league but they can't force them to lose the ability to vote us out of Asia or punish us for not playing ball.
I reckon that this is the first play in a move by the AFC to ultimately gobble up Oceania (and their 1/2 WC spot).

AFC's demands are just so ludicrous that there has to be something else happening behind the scenes.
I think hoodooguru is close. Similar to NZlder Mike Cockerals view from Saturdays SMH.

The Middle East want their World Cup spot back - look at how far Qatar went and now they want Sepp B's job.

Kuwait have been complaining about Australia in ACL and tried to stop it. Oh Dear heat is going to be on A-League socceroos in the new year.
Wasn't treating NZ players as foreigners one of the reasons that NZ Knights failed? People couldn't connect with a team with almost no locals.
Can the AFC even stop Australian clubs from registering New Zealand players - since they basically have the right to live and work here?

Isn't the "foreign player" concept based on visas?
If the FFA changed the rules for ALL a-league clubs and allowed them to sign NZ and Aussie players (ie; not considered an o/s player), then we wouldnt have a problem...

Im not sure why Wellington are afforded this bonus in the first place.

Wellington wont be kicked out and Australia wont lose their spots in the ACL, however, we will need to do our own blackmailing to help the AFC eat up OFC to get our way.
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