The problem for the FFA is that it isn’t really John’s behaviour they want to change. After all whatever he said to referee Matthew Breeze last week it captured the media attention. Probably more than the prospect of the final itself. After all it will be the third time these two teams have met in four weeks. Media readership outside Melbourne and Adelaide are more interested in Australia’s failure in one-day cricket and the build up to the winter codes. So for most, saying the teams are evenly matched is probably enough information. Kossie gave the press a general interest story t could run with for days - eve a 24 hour extension for his case to keep it all burning.
No, the problem for the FFA is 1. How others’ judge it by its response particularly on football’s reputation for violence, and 2. Whether Kosmina’s behaviour affects how others treat football refs. Particularly at junior level, the FFA struggles to get enough refs and assistants to cover all the games. And Matthew Breeze, our number two ref, has a non-football day job.
The John Kosmina story should be a good one. Frank Farina says he is the best coach in Australia. And he was a hot tip to take over from Terry Butcher at Sydney - before Branko Culina (Jason’s dad) got the nod for 14 games. Fifty year old Kosmina has managed to keep going in Australian football for 34 years (less one game at Arsenal). He was a star of the National Soccer League, a highly regarded 60 cap Socceroo, he coached Brisbane, Newcastle and Adelaide in the NSL and won home and away season of version one of the A-League. Adelaide will be in this year’s and next year’s Asian Cup. And by tomorrow night, he could be an A-League champion. Plus Graham Arnold has made him assistant Socceroo coach and John has said he would like to coach the Socceroos one day. Also, John is very well known by the media and he promotes the game to them regularly. And by and large the media is forgiving, or at least see the funny-side, of his behaviour (but not of others that emulate it).
This story probably made the FFA’s decision difficult. Punish John hard and the FFA could cop the blame if Adelaide lose. And Adelaide need to win to ensure it can attract quality players to replace potential retirees from this squad. And some fans could be put off.
But then there are those two problems. Refs already get enough abuse across all age-groups to put potential refs off. And this is Kosmina’s second suspension this season. The first was for football violence. Last season the problem was publicly arguing with other coaches.
So summing that up, I think a five-week ban from the technical area and an undisclosed fine is not going to stop John losing it again and I think it will not counter the weight of his actions to encourage bad behaviour from other coaches, players and parents. And what do the FFA do next time?
Here perhaps the FFA could learn from Cricket Australia’s long-term punishment of Shane Warne. After multiple misdo minas Cricket Australia made it clear (but I don’t think they ever said out loud) that Warne would not captain Australia, he was dropped early from the one-day squad and, despite his clear brilliance, he never won the Alan Border medal for best player. Coaching the Socceroos is an equivalent position to captaining the cricket team. So perhaps we should expect to see John gracefully cite pressure of the Asia cup and step back from the Socceroos. And then the FFA will never have to ‘say out loud’ and Adelaide can keep their coach. Like Warne, a clear exception could be made for John - behaviour tolerated but ‘don’t try this at home because the punishment will be made to fit you’.