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Filopoulos’ defence of football proves he is the right man to unite and lead the domestic game

PEter Filopoulos Football Victoria

In an administrative career spanning near a quarter of a century, CEO of Football Victoria Peter Filopoulos has forged a reputation as not only an effective but also one of the most respected figures on Australia’s sporting landscape.

Recently, and with the A-League’s newly granted independence, his name has been prominent in discussions around the people required to use the new financial freedoms gained to advance and transform the competition into what we have always hoped it would become.

Whilst other candidates will also have fair and valid claims on such a role, Filopoulos’ achievements in business and commercial and marketing strategy within the game of football make him a highly desirable candidate.

The short term future looms as a vital period of potential growth of the national league; a league so oft maligned yet one fundamental to the overall image of the beautiful game in Australia. Having the right people in place is the first and most important step in ensuring that prudent and visionary moves are made and not the reactionary and conservative decisions of the past made by Football Federation Australia.

Filopoulos has experience across a range of sports and thus, a keen understanding of the unique and saturated Australian sporting market. Experience in aquatics and stadium management add a depth to his arsenal of talents, yet it his 8 years of experience in AFL administration that came clearly into focus this week.

Long before the significant role he played in rescuing Perth Glory; as he guided the club through its horrid salary cap problems stemming from 2014/15, Filopoulos had spent eight years in AFL club land. Both Hawthorn and North Melbourne enjoyed the fruits of his labour.

Last Saturday, the Richmond Tigers defeated the Greater Western Sydney Giants to claim the 2019 Premiership and Tigers fans celebrated their second title in three years with some passionate demonstrations of both pride and ecstasy in the streets of Melbourne.

The images were compelling, widely spread on social media and brought no qualm or concern. Until, that is, Peter Filopoulos stated publicly and categorically what a number of football fans were thinking.

He tweeted;

“Clearly a different perspective by media on AFL fans celebrating with flares and fireworks in public streets to soccer fans doing similar in the past. One’s a ’party getting started’ & the other is ’soccer fans rioting’. The headlines are starkly different. #FairGoForFootball”.

The message was succinct and quite simple. Had Melbourne Victory or Western Sydney Wanderers fans been captured celebrating in the same manner and the captions featured underneath the images been substituted with the usually obtuse and ill-informed nonsense spun by main stream media, a hullabaloo would have no doubt broken out.

Using the images captured on Saturday night and adding a headline or caption such as the one the Nine Network expressed through their Sydney based anchor Peter Overton in 2018, would have changed the contextual impression of the scene and fuelled an inaccurate stereotype.

After a few Wanderers fans had become somewhat over-zealous at a Sydney Derby, Overton labelled the events as a “a night of soccer violence’. It is not surprising in the slightest that such a label was not given to the events of Saturday, despite numerous reports of fans assaulting Victorian police and what appeared to be rampant disorder after the game.

Filopoulos said what needed to be said. Taking things one step further and writing formally to media organisations, the Victorian Government, AFL House and the FFA, should be his next move.

Many have lauded his comments and rightly so. Possessing a clear, long term vision for football in Australia, Filopoulos realises that the public relations slap in the face the media continues to serve up to football, holds back that vision and the game.

 

Zlatan to the A-League – the Pros and the Cons

In recent times, rumours have begun circling that Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be making a move to the A-League.

At face value, ‘Ibra’ in the A-League sounds like a fantastic proposition.

He’s a living legend who has won titles just about everywhere he’s gone. AC Milan, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan, Ajax, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United are all huge clubs he has played for during his illustrious career.

Say what you will about his arrogance and ego, but it’s a part of why he’s so revered. He doesn’t put on a mask, he is unequivocally himself.

Zlatan would instantly become the biggest name in the league today and one of the biggest names to ever come Down Under.

The exposure that soccer in Australia would get as a result of his arrival in the country would be phenomenal. When Zlatan first arrived in Los Angeles as a part of his move to the MLS, it was the biggest soccer news story at the time. And the MLS is a much larger competition than the A-League.

People from across the globe would start watching A-League fixtures and stadiums would be packed to the rafters.

In a time where soccer in Australia could use a popularity boost, Zlatan would bring people across from other sports and be the star attraction in Australia.

Shirts sales would skyrocket. Fans from other clubs would buy shirts purely because it’s Zlatan.

I mean, you’d be silly not to.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the A-League could be the necessary sugar hit the A-League needs. But that could be all it is. A sugar hit. A flash in the pan.

David Villa was fantastic when he was loaned out to Melbourne City, albeit for the mere four games.

Ibra would probably play more than four matches, but the rumours are also stating that he could be in the country for as little as six weeks.

That’s nowhere near enough time.

Once Zlatan leaves, any overseas exposure that arose from his arrival in Australia would instantly dissipate. Fans from other sports would return to their sports of choice.

Basically, any and all interest garnered from Zlatan being in the league would go with Zlatan.

Australian-based soccer fans would understandably feel aggrieved by his departure. There are also many soccer fans based here that do not follow the A-League, instead preferring the European leagues.

After Zlatan leaves, where do you think they’ll go? Back to their Optus Sport subscriptions.

When you look at Zlatan’s playing career, you’ll notice one recurring theme.

At all but one club he’s played for, he’s never made more than 90 appearances.

He made 122 for Paris Saint-Germain during his four year stint in France’s capital, but he has never been one to stay the course with one club.

Four years is indeed his longest tenure at any club but even that’s lower than most players.

What does all this mean? He’s not a loyal player. He doesn’t play for the club. His character is such that he only ever sees what’s in it for him.

What would that mean for whichever A-League club would pick him up?

It would mean that it’s nothing more than a cash grab for him. It would almost be paid leave for someone like Zlatan.

He would train once or twice and play the weekend’s game. But he wouldn’t be giving it his all. His heart wouldn’t be in it.

Yes, he plays with passion and hunger unlike 99% of every player out there. But it’s not as if he’s playing for any reward other than money.

There wouldn’t be much motivation for him.

As a club, do you want your highest paid player to be someone who would be apathetic? I certainly wouldn’t, nor should any other club’s executives.

Zlatan would be a huge coup for the A-League. His name is enough to draw a crowd wherever he goes.

But if his rumoured stint in the A-League would be as little as six to eight weeks, would it be a worthwhile investment for the league and its stakeholders?

That’s for you to decide.

 

 

How A-League clubs can tackle waste management

It’s been widely publicised about how waste is going into landfill as we look at ways to protect our environment.

As a community, soccer clubs around the country have the ability to start making changes that will help the environment become better. What can we learn from overseas?

When you think about it, we go through a lot of waste at soccer games. Plastic cups, cans, food wrappers, bottles and more. Whether it be at the professional or local level, clubs are always dealt the task of cleaning up after matches.

Despite the recycling crisis remaining a problem across Australia, there hasn’t ever really been a system in place about ways to manage the rubbish from matches. Some clubs opt for both recycling and rubbish bins, but sometimes there are only the main general waste bins available.

We can only hope that the recycling crisis eases soon, but what can clubs and ground staff do now to prepare for a more sustainable future?

It needs to be put on the table because recently in Victoria there’s been a speculative idea to solve the current recycling issues – that is to have up to six different bins to seperate kerbside waste.

That’s a lot of sorting out to do if it comes to fruition and if it does happen clubs should start thinking about what measures they can put in place now.

While rubbish sent to landfill is inevitable, are there any lessons to be learned from overseas about how clubs and supporters can help restrict the amount of rubbish?

It comes as a report revealed that over 6 million single use cups for hot drinks were used by fans at Premier League matches throughout the course of the 2018/19 season, demonstrating that it’s not only here that waste could be reduced.

It gives a glimpse into how much waste there is, and why it’s important to address it before it’s too late.

Some changes have already been implemented in English clubs, with some trials being put to the test as they look for creative ways to limit the rubbish sent to landfill.

In a fixture at London Stadium, West Ham trialled a system where they used reusable cups along with 100 well signed collection points, which enabled them to save over 20,000 cups being sent to landfill.

Perhaps even more creative, at Twickenham Stadium they have introduced a deposit return scheme that has been a great success. The refundable deposit comes with a fan’s first drink, and basically they can either return for another drink or leave the ground with a souvenir.

As a starting point, it’s worth investigating how to be more sustainable by relying less on plastics. It comes as single-use plastics are slowly being phased out as a way to limit its damage to the environment.

This is where clubs can begin to become more creative with their resources. Instead of the general plastic that has no use afterwards, people should start thinking twice before chucking something out. Over time if clubs think with this mindset, it would make for some positive changes.

Waste management can be something that can be overlooked by local clubs, but getting fans onside and thinking about how to be more sustainable is a good move forward.

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