Sunday, September 02, 2007

FFA 'fouls' Queensland Roar to set tone

Central Coast 3 - Wellington 0
Sydney 2 - Adelaide 2
Melbourne 0- Perth 0
Newcastle 1 - Roar 1

The FFA's approach to matches is no longer transparent.

The FFA has lost some core talent, Matt Carroll and John O'Neil are the obvious ones with sports management experience.

Last year when there was a problem, the FFA's A-Team waited a few weeks and then made a discrete call to Melbourne Victory and asked them to stop diving in the box to win games. Victory complied and Archie joked about it.

This year's FFA team are keen to respond to the public humiliation in the Asian cup and, as a result, are trying to tone down the game. The No. 1 priority of the FFA appears to be, and perhaps should be, the national squad. They have to create a team used to dealing with the referring standards of Asia. This means softer play.

However, the A-League teams have recruited to cover their perceived weaknesses from version 1 and 2. However, the refereeing talent just can't be improved on such short turnaround. And buying in marquee refs (as suggested here before and directly to FFA) isn't going to be tried.

Clearly, for the first two seasons the Roar played great attacking football without enough success. It was probably football that would have been praised in Asia. However, in the real world of the A-League, hard head team's like Adelaide just pushed them off the ball and in the words of John Kosmina, 'ground them out.'

In response, Frank Farina has brought in Tiatto and Moore. These guys shouldn't get pushed off the ball. But both were lost after the first game. Tiatto's case in particular is a big problem, including ultimately, for the FFA. The Roar is battling to survive. It has the best stadium in the league and pulls bigger crowds than from the 5 million population of Sydney. Plus it is, now that Melbourne has filled its potential, the A-League growth market.

The FFA appears not to understand what it will take to tap this potential. I don't think changing the rules of international football and over-riding a ref is going to help. In fact it is going to hurt.

The first round Roar v Adelaide was poorly refereed. Clearly, the FFA agrees that its ref team did not see key parts of the game. So it intervened where it could to send a message - we are watching. Unfortunately, even the FFA can't push the FIFA defined envelope as far as righting the decision on the Roar's disallowed goal. But that is what the fans will remember.

In fact, the fans won't understand why Tiatto was cited (and another topic is 'why bother to call the player to put a defence case if there is no independent judge?' - I interpret some of John O'Neill's reported comments as an allusion to this problem).

The FFAs actions will discourage the fans. In particular, it will turn off the fans that take a crowd from 15,000 to 50,000. They will see the game as either unfair or full of dirty players. Let's remember that the FFA used both Tiatto and Moore to promote the launch of the season.

The other problem for the FFA was its treatment of two other fouls in round 1. Heffernan's deliberate elbow to Milligan's head and a Milligan tackle. Both Milligan and Heffernan were needed for Socceroo duty. So Heffernan's outrage is left as the ref had it - ignored, and Milligan's sentence is entirely suspended. And why wasn't Adelaide's Valkanis cited for his late two footer?

The struggling Newcastle, whom the FFA assisted in version 1, were saved by the sending off of the Roar's Maclaren. How will Roar fans react to that? It is unlikely that they will rush to fill Lang Park on Thursday mid week after that.

FFA need to show they were not scapegoating the Roar. It now needs to suspend Harnwell for a close of play wrestle with Muscat. And to suspend who-ever it was from Adelaide that put the crushing to threaten Juninho's season. I would like to see that.

It will be interested to watch the FFA now. Will they look increasingly like the old ASA?


Hamish said...

For the record John, I reckon you're spot on about the absurdly arbitrary nature of the rulings.

I don't think there's any conspiracy against the Roar though - I can't see a motive.

There is of course an important gentleman in the FFA who does have a pecuniary motive in conspiring for Sydney FC. That doesn't mean it's happening, but it's a situation that demands clear, transparent, consistently applied rules off the field, where it is obviously possible.

The need for an independent judge for FFA's tribunals is also an excellent and important point to raise. Without that, anything is possible - the game has no repute to dis.

The Round Ball Analyst said...

Like Hamish John, I cant see a conspiracy against the Roar but can understand your angst and frustration at some of the inconsistency and agree there must be some framework applied to all this for credibility.

It's true, you guys have had absolutely no luck whatsoever with afficialdom, but hang in there, it's a close comp.

Neil said...

I think the fans "can" see quite clearly why Tiatto was suspended. It was a crude tackle and deserved a suspension. Unfortunately I have to agree with the other comments - there is no evidence of a conspiracy against the Roar. But I must agree with you an independent judge for the tribunal needs to be implemented and the standard of refereeing also needs to pick up.