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FFA boss David Gallop missed chance to defend football

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NEVER in my born days have I been left so disappointed by such a limp display as on Tuesday.

From a fan of a club once described by its own chairman as one that could win “Cups for cock-ups,” believe me, that’s a big statement. I’ve seen some football train wrecks down the years.

But yesterday’s press conference by FFA CEO, David Gallop, takes the biscuit, the cake, the chocolate gateaux with cream, and a cherry on top.

After a week of demoralizing, unfair, and infuriating headlines, the game desperately needed a strong response.

When fans are labelled thugs, criminals, even likened to terrorists, you’d expect one of the main faces of the game to stand up and be counted. After all, those same supporters are the ones used incessantly in FFA marketing campaigns, to promote our point of difference.

We expected to see a football version of Braveheart, all fire and brimstone, ready to charge forward in defence of the games greatest asset.

What did we get? A man trotting at a sedate pace, armed with a damp sponge, subsequently used to gently mop the brow of the games accusers. This was appeasement of Neville Chamberlain proportions.

Sorry David. I like you as a bloke, and I think you’re a good administrator, but yesterday, you lost the fans.

You also lost the football media, who have been united in their outrage at these slurs, slurs that threaten to take the sport we love, back into the dark ages.

Where was the passion? Where was the slap in the face for those who tarnish all football fans with the same, tawdry brush as the few, (the tiny minority), who insist on giving the sport this irritating problem.

For sure, he was right in saying there was no denial of the (relatively small numbers of) troublemakers from FFA – how could there be, given they had issued 198 bans?

But had he really listened to the vast majority of law-abiding fans and their grievances? Does he, and FFA understand, what the fans really want – a clear and transparent appeals system? Fans should not be guilty until proven innocent.

That’s not protecting lawbreakers, it’s defending democratic principles.

Why didn’t he also point out that troublemakers make up only a fraction of the games total support? Why didn’t he go on the front foot by quoting some actual facts?

Facts such as football fans being bottom of the league (in comparison to other sports) at the SCG Complex when it comes to fan misbehaviour – as quoted in last Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald?

Why didn’t he tackle the inconsistency of approach towards football by the authorities? Such as cricket having 196 fans ejected from a one-day international involving England and Australia at the MCG back in 2007 – leading to Victorian Police saying they were “encouraged by the good behaviour of the crowd?” Can you imagine the headlines if 196 were evicted at an A-League game?

A letter, a plea to the FFA

Wanderers supporters – at this stage, they won’t be there this week. Source: AAP

Why didn’t he challenge some of the lies perpetuated by some in the mainstream media, one of whom said that all A-League clubs are in “financial trouble,” when Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United have just recorded profits of over seven figures in the last 12 months?

Why didn’t he condemn those who show their true, prejudiced colours by wading into a debate they have little knowledge of, calling fans “suburban terrorists” and claiming they use “the sport as a vehicle to promote their ethnicity?”

Mariners fans hold up a sign during the round eight A-League match.

Mariners fans hold up a sign during the round eight A-League match.Source: Getty Images

Why didn’t he correct media smears, such as the claim that Western Sydney Wanderers crowds are down, when they are actually up by almost two thousand?

Actually, by the time this weekend comes around, that may no longer be a lie – because the RBB have called for fans to boycott this weekends game against Brisbane Roar, in protest at what they are calling “David Gallop’s shambolic press conference.” Others will surely follow.

Way to go David, FFA. In the space of 24 hours, that’s two key stakeholders alienated. Who’s next? Sponsors? I’m sure they are delighted to read that the CEO of the game they pay to support, doesn’t really believe in his own fans.

Still, so long as the mainstream media Rottweilers are kept happy. And they will be, make no mistake. This is exactly what they wanted.

A game now at war with itself.

© 2015 Fox Sports | This article was written by Simon Hill and first appeared on the Fox Sports Website on 2 December 2015.

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