Day for bi-codals | Aussies savor possibilities in return leg with Uruguay

Reading about the modest expectations for crowd support, the salary cap, the nondescript team names (“Roar,” “Glory,” et al.) and the need to market to families we are reminded of Major League Soccer in the United States (Mike Ticher, “Letter from … Australia,” When Saturday Comes, November 2005, 40). The similarities in sporting cultures also resonate with Brown, who trots out the arguments for Australia producing relatively weak field players, but quality goalkeepers: “[P]otential shot stoppers thrive in an Australian culture congested with hand-oriented sports. Perhaps the proliferation of ‘handball’ codes in this country has contributed to the accelerated development of hand-eye coordination among our sporting elite” (“Our Goalkeepers,” 2 November). Wisely, though, Brown does not seem to give the argument much credence. As in the United States, the concept of “sport space” exists in Australia—that is, can soccer find a spot in public consciousness with strong competition from more “native” games?

The self-styled “accidental Australian, ” Guido, author of the intelligent Web log “Rank and Vile.”

Football in its previous Australian manifestation, in the National Soccer League, was at least partly a province for teams with strong ethnic associations. The A-League may have lost some of this flavor, but, to some observers, soccer is now less compartmentalized and more likely to be regarded seriously by potential sponsors. One could do worse than reading the “Rank and Vile: Musings of an Accidental Australian” Web log (http://rankandvile.dailyflute.com/) on such questions. In a full 16 single-spaced pages, including conversation-starter essay (“Soccer and the Australian Psyche,” 5 August 2005) and moderated responses, one learns how soccer creates fear in backers of Australian Rules football that the local football code might lose its primacy. ” ‘If Australia should ever reach the semifinals or final of the World Cup, that day will be costly for Australian [Rules] football,” writes historian Geoffrey Blainey, who, like advocates of the “sport space” concept in the USA, sees a sport’s popularity as a zero-sum equation: soccer is up, therefore Australian football is down (“Whither Our Beloved Game?The Age, 29 August 2003). Johnny Warren, according to the Sydney Morning Herald‘s Cockerill, felt that a “white bread” soccer establishment were wary of the sport’s flavor, its association with migrants and the “foreign.” The author of “Rank and Vile,” Guido, who identifies himself as a 1974 migrant from Italy, develops these ideas: 

The fear of “invasion” has been with European Australians since the first fleet. Here they were, a small white population as far away from their homes as they could get, settling on the edge of a huge and unknown continent with an indigenous population they didn’t know anything about and with Asian populations to the north which were perceived to be huge. Out of this came the creation of the “White Australia Policy” and the “Yellow Peril.” The fear to be taken over by something bigger and stronger.

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