Restless natives | Australian football hears soccer’s ‘wooh, ooh, ooh’

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Sydney | Qantas Airlines had a backstage role in Australia’s ultimate victory over Uruguay, in penalty kicks, at Telstra Stadium in the Wednesday World Cup qualifier. A charter with amenities such as massage and “relaxing videos” allowed the Socceroos to travel from Montevideo in relative comfort. Uruguay, lacking Football Federation Australia’s resources, had to take a commercial flight.

Another serendipitous, Qantas-inspired moment occurred in the Aussies’ locker room following the Wednesday match, when John Travolta, in Sydney to shill for the koala-linked air carrier, personally blessed the Australian side. Australia players, led by goalie Zeljko Kalac, sang,

You’re the one that I want, wooh, ooh, ooh.

Sydney media added some perspective to the giddy aftermath. Tim Lane, writing in The Age, says that soccer must expand to the indigenous population, but Geoffrey Blainey said he was “less elated than [he] should have been” in watching Australia’s qualification. Blainey fears that Australia Rules football will cede some of its hold on the public given soccer’s rapidly expanding resources (see Nov 13).

The once-powerful [Australian Rules] football teams in farming districts from the Wimmera to Tasmania’s north-west have declined dramatically. If Australia’s national soccer team performs well in the World Cup …, the publicity for soccer here will be voluminous.

About the Author

John Turnbull founded The Global Game in 2003. He was lead editor for The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008) and has also written on soccer for Afriche e Orienti (Bologna, Italy), the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, So Foot (Paris) and When Saturday Comes. His essay "Alone in the Woods: The Literary Landscape of Soccer's 'Last Defender' " in World Literature Today was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Also for World Literature Today he edited a special section on women's soccer, "World Cup/World Lit 2011," before the Women's World Cup in Germany. The section appeared in the May-June issue. His next project is a book on soccer and faith.

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