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AAFC supports Football Australia’s addition of the National Second Division in Domestic Match Calendar

The placeholder for a National Second Division in the Domestic Match Calendar is a sign Football Australia anticipates the competition's start.

With the addition of a placeholder for a National Second Division in the newly announced Domestic Match Calendar, the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC) believes the initiative is a sign Football Australia is anticipating the competition’s start in the near future, as well as implicit support for the concept.

President of the Association of Australian Football Clubs (AAFC), Nick Galatas, explains the move is a positive step towards a National Second Division being introduced.

“The second division has been in the process of development for some time, independently from the domestic match calendar. The domestic match calendar is a separate initiative which the A-League has undertaken, which we think is a good initiative for the game so that everyone knows when everything is on, there is alignment, and there is provision made for the various seasons, national teams and all competitions,” he said.

“The domestic match calendar is an independent project and not a part of the second division. It is a positive thing because while Football Australia has been developing the national second division, and AAFC is participating in its development, it is heartening and positive to see that Football Australia has made provision for it in the domestic match calendar, anticipating that it will start in the near future.”

South Melbourne FC President Nicholas Maikousis says that the opportunity to play in a National Second Division instead of the Victorian National Premier League (NPL) would be a huge moment for the club. 

“We think it’s critical to get another tier of clubs and raise benchmarks. Ultimately, apart from our club’s self-interests and our forecasts and projections for a national second division, it can be a game-changer for us,” he said.

“We also have some fundamental philosophical views on the unification of football in this country once and for all. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the FA, Chris Nikou, James Johnson, and the board to truly unify the old soccer and new football – and whatever jargon people use these days – because all of a sudden they will get old football paying attention to the A-League.”

The AAFC has already released its framework for how a second division would be run, structured and implemented. Galatas adds that the next step is to work with Football Australia to deliver a model that is suitable for football clubs Australia-wide.

“We are hopefully now at the next stage where we are stress-testing our model with Football Australia’s development, as they are working on the available models. We are going to work with them and see what they think and how our clubs can respond to anything put to them,” he said.

Several high-profile clubs have already laid out their intentions to pursue a position in the National Second Division. Gold Coast United chairman Danny Maher told Soccerscene this week that while the club was wanting a return to the A-League that was separate from the National Premier League team, the club itself would be interested in the viability of the second division.

“Gold Coast United, the NPL entity, may be interested in the second division and we are currently part of that group investigating the viability of a second division,” Maher said. 

Melbourne Knights President Pave Jusup told Soccerscene the club would be interested in joining the competition.

“We’ve got a lot of latent fans who are disappointed in the situation we find ourselves in. There are a lot of people who would put their hands up and into their pockets to help propel the club if given the opportunity. We’ve gone through a period of consolidation, but there’s a new generation of people who want to propel the club into the limelight as their parents and grandparents did,” Jusup said. 

Maikousis believes the second division is a huge opportunity for Australian football and would improve the players that are developed within the country.

“I think the national second division will not only unify the game, but also create bigger clubs again. It will also deal with the issue of developing Australian talent,” he said.

South Melbourne, Melbourne Knights, and Gold Coast United are part of the 32 club National Second Division Partner Group run by the AAFC, and have made contributions towards the framework published in January 2021. The group of clubs “resourced and undertook detailed discussions involving numerous workshops, research and analysis” which ultimately lead to the publishing of the report. According to the AAFC website the competition is aiming to launch in 2022.

A National Second Division below the A-League was once a pipe-dream. However, with key stakeholders embracing the idea and working together, the idea could soon become a reality. With three key organisations – Football Australia, AAFC, and Australian Professional Leagues – all in strong support, the ultimate goal of promotion and relegation between the A-League and a National Second Division could be closer than many realise.

FIFA’s commercial partnership structure unlocks opportunities

FIFA has introduced a new commercial partnership structure that will provide companies worldwide with increased opportunities to partner with soccer.

For the first time in eight years, FIFA has introduced a new commercial partnership structure that will provide companies worldwide with increased opportunities to partner with soccer.

Three partnership variables have been launched which include women’s football, men’s football and Esports/gaming. As a starting point, brands will now be able to negotiate dedicated partnerships with women’s football and Esports.

FIFA are building on their Women’s Football strategy implemented from 2018, by launching a dedicated women’s soccer commercial vertical to show their commitment to making soccer more accessible for women and girls across the globe. Their main aim from this vertical is to accelerate the growth and equality of the women’s game.

As for opportunities that provides for Australia, it could be a key driver for broadening the business side in women’s soccer, as well as the ever-growing Esports.

FIFA Chief Women’s Football Officer, Sarai Bareman:

“This marks a groundbreaking moment to maximise the growth of the women’s game and its marketing appeal, as we create equal commercial models across Women’s and Men’s Football for the first time,” she said.

“We’re excited about the opportunities for brands who want to support women’s sport, help accelerate women’s equality, and wish to align themselves with the unparalleled momentum around women’s football.”

A dedicated partnerships structure for Esports will allow FIFA to further broaden its gaming footprint. The structure provides exciting opportunities to participate in one of the world’s fastest growing markets.

Overall, FIFA’s new partnership structure includes the following:

  • All partners will receive extensive global commercial rights across national team tournaments.
  • Sponsors will receive global activation rights surrounding the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the FIFA World Cup and/or across all FIFAe competitions.
  • Tournament Supporters will be able to select territorial activation rights for any of the above listed tournaments.
  • FIFA partners continue to hold the highest level of association with global partner status and category exclusivity across competitions.
  • FIFA’s new commercial approach will enable brands to benefit from new opportunities to associate with FIFA’s brand for business-driven purposes

FIFA Chief Commercial Officer, Kay Madati, on the impact these changes will make:

“As we continually work to make football truly global, accessible and inclusive, we recognised the need for a nimble and customisable commercial structure that enables brands big and small, global and local, to connect with all aspects of the beautiful game,” he said.

“The new model will allow our partners to create more tailored programming and marketing activations that align directly with their strategic business goals, and connect them to the world’s most passionate fans, in the world’s most engaging sport.”

28 Australian Match Officials recognised by FIFA for 2022

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia's Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA's Panel of International Referees.

Football Australia has announced that 28 of Australia’s Match Officials have been appointed to FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022.

The list includes Referees, Assistant referees, Futsal referees, and Video Match Officials – all of whom are enabled to officiate FIFA sanctioned tournaments and fixtures.

The list includes four new Australian match officials, featuring two match referees and two assistant referees. They are Daniel Elder and Adam Kersey from the Isuzu UTE A-League Men’s competition, and assistant referees Lauren Hargrave and Kearney Robinson respectively.

With all officials becoming debutants on FIFA’s esteemed list, it serves as recognition on a worldwide scale.

Football Australian Chairman and Chair of Football Australia Referees Committee, Chris Nikou:

“Australian match officials have always been highly regarded within the global football landscape and it is pleasing to see that FIFA has continued to recognise this through the appointment of 28 Australians to the Panel of International Referees for 2022,” he said.

“Congratulations to the new additions to the panel in Daniel (Elder), Adam (Kersey), Lauren (Hargrave), and Kearney (Robinson).”

Football Australia Chief Executive Officer, James Johnson:

“Refereeing remains a key focus for Football Australia, and it is pleasing to see Australian Match Officials once again recognised by FIFA. We congratulate all the 2022 Panel or their opportunity to represent Australian football on the global stage,” he said.“With the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ now just 11 months away and a home Women’s World Cup™ in 2023, it is an exciting time for Australian refereeing and football more broadly.”

Four other Australian match officials are also being acknowledged for their selection to officiate in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022. Referees Casey Reibelt, Lara Lee, Kate Jacewicz, and Assistant Referee Joanna Charaktis will represent Australia in India over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, seasoned Australian referees Matthew Cream and Renae Coghill called time on their international refereeing careers at the end of 2021.

The full list of Australian Match Officials selected for FIFA’s Panel of International Referees for 2022 is below:

Name

Role

FIFA International Since

Kurt AMS

Referee

2019

Jonathan BARREIRO

Referee

2019

Christopher BEATH

Referee

2011

Rebecca DURCAU

Referee

2017

Daniel ELDER

Referee

2022

Shaun EVANS

Referee

2017

Kate JACEWICZ

Referee

2011

Adam KERSEY

Referee

2022

Alexander KING

Referee

2020

Lara LEE

Referee

2019

Casey REIBELT

Referee

2014

Ashley BEECHAM

Assistant Referee

2013

Joanna CHARAKTIS

Assistant Referee

2019

Ryan GALLAGHER

Assistant Referee

2016

Owen GOLDRICK

Assistant Referee

2018

Lance GREENSHIELDS

Assistant Referee

2019

Lauren HARGRAVE

Assistant Referee

2022

Sarah HO

Assistant Referee

2004

George LAKRINDIS

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew LINDSAY

Assistant Referee

2019

Nathan MACDONALD

Assistant Referee

2012

Laura MOYA

Assistant Referee

2017

Kearney ROBINSON

Assistant Referee

2022

Anton SHCHETININ

Assistant Referee

2016

Andrew BEST

Futsal Referee

2017

Jonathon MOORE

Futsal Referee

2018

Ryan SHEPHEARD

Futsal Referee

2009

Darius TURNER

Futsal Referee

2013

Note: Match Officials listed in bold are recognised as FIFA Video Match Officials (VMOs).

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