The salary cap, restrictions on squad sizes and the number of foreign players that can be signed, along with mandatory requirements for a number of younger men to be part of the first team set-up, mean the A-League is one of the most highly regulated soccer competitions in the world.
It also makes it one of the hardest to predict. The equalisation measures have worked to bring the clubs together, and while some have more cash and better off-field set-ups, those advantages don’t always translate into guarantees of on-field success.
Football Federation Australia chief executive David Gallop used Tuesday’s A-League launch to make the boldest statement of his reign:
Football will one day become Australia’s national sport.
While some have wondered how the A-League will possibly top the dizzying heights of last season, Gallop warned that was nothing to what lay in the years and decades ahead.
”Football will become the largest and most popular sport in this country. We are football, you are all part of it and I hope you’re really excited about season nine.”
David Beckham is briefly lost in his thoughts as he gazes across the gleaming indoor track at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre. He has arrived two hours early for the training session he will oversee with 170 children and, ahead of the hysteria that will inevitably follow, it is a rare moment of calm.
”I was brought up five minutes down the road,” he says, gesturing in the direction of the reservoir that separates this new facility and Chingford Foundation School. ”Kids love stuff like this but, for me, it’s also personally exciting. To see this here now is inspiring. It’s like the feeling when you first get taken to a football match and you walk out and see the pitch.”
Dominic Oduro has been on a tear as the Crew are riding his goal scoring antics back into playoff position.
Oduro was named the MLS Player of the Month, following being named the MLS player of the week after his fine performance in Dallas. Oduro’s September numbers speak for themselves, three goals and two assists helped lead the Crew to a 4-1-0 record during the month.
Oduro now has 12 goals and 3 assists on the year. His goal total leads the team and is the most since Andres Mendoza’s in 2011. The goal tally also matches his career high, set with the Chicago Fire in 2011.
FIFA’s damaging affair with Qatar strips bare the organisation’s fixation with petro-dollars and broadcast dollars: show me the money. It reveals FIFA’s self-image as a mighty sovereign nation, with Sepp Blatter a self-appointed global statesman sharing ideas and canapes with presidents, chancellors and prime ministers: show me the power.
That is what this Qatar controversy is all about: money and power. The sadness is that FIFA could be a force for good, spreading hope from Zurich. At the very least, the power brokers of the world’s most popular sport could have called the Qataris to proper account over labour conditions on their 2022 construction sites.