Front page of the paper today (a serious one too, The Australian, no comics) has the story of how FIFA, the world governing body for soccer has decided (22-1) to go back on the promise of giving the Oceania region an automatic qualifying spot in the 2006 World Cup.
Since Australia is the dominant team, a guaranteed spot for Oceania would have meant qualification was a done deal. This back room shenanigans by FIFA is a real kick in the teeth for Soccer Australia. It’s rough on the players considering their recent performances.
Having said all that, I think FIFA was stupid to promise that spot in the first place. Oceania is not a strong enough group to justify an automatic spot. You’ve got Australia, then a whole lotta daylight to New Zealand, and then a whole lot more to the rest, mostly Pacific Island nations who can’t afford their own team jerseys. You can see why Australia is pissed and FIFA behaved badly, but let’s be realistic, shall we?
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I agreed with the editorial comment in the paper today that Australia needs to look forward and join the Asia qualifying group. They’ve been given more slots thanks to Japan and Korea’s emergence and a decent Australian side should be able to compete.
Time to stop whinging and get on with the job, I reckon.