Australia Cup confirmed as national knockout competition

Football Australia has confirmed tonight that from the 2022 edition onwards, Australia’s largest national knockout football competition will be known as the ‘Australia Cup’.The transition from the FFA Cup, which was established in 2014, to the Australia Cup will take place over the coming weeks as the Preliminary Rounds of the 2022 competition get underway in States and Territories across the nation.The switch to the Australia Cup name heralds a new era for a competition that routinely attracts over 700 clubs from all divisions of football across Australia, uniting the grassroots, amateur, and professional levels of the sport.However, the change in name also integrates and acknowledges Australian football’s storied past. Between 1962 and 1968, the original Australia Cup was contested between leading state league teams of the time.Football Australia Chief Executive Officer James Johnson saw the Australia Cup name as a popular option amongst the game’s stakeholders when research and consultation was conducted regarding changing the name of the competition, following Football Australia’s own name change from Football Federation Australia (FFA) in December 2020.“Through discussion with Australian football historians, and dialogue with fans and stakeholders of the competition, the consensus was that the name Australia Cup truly speaks to what this competition is and represents. We are pleased that through this process pioneering players, clubs, and officials can feel recognised and connected to the competition,” Johnson said.“The research and consultation we have conducted regarding this name change indicates that people will be overwhelmingly happy with the shift to Australia Cup from 2022 onwards.“We have really evolved the FFA Cup competition this year and changing the name of the competition to the Australia Cup is an exciting next step in this evolution. It was a year of many firsts – the first time the competition was played live and free-to-air via Network 10, giving it unprecedent exposure. We also scheduled matches in the final stages of the competition so that some were played on weekends, making it more friendly for the thousands of supporters across the country. The granting of one of Australia’s ‘half-spots’ in the AFC Champions League also meant that this year community clubs right up to Isuzu UTE A-League clubs could dream of representing their supporters, communities, and Australia on the international stage.“Our Cup competition has always been one which has connected and united Australia’s football community, and we believe the name change will ultimately serve to elevate the competition in the national and international consciousness, as clubs aspire to win a competition that represents our entire football ecosystem.“As the Australia Cup in 2022, we want to see more clubs from right across the country join the competition. We will see a competition where every game matters. Being played in the winter months, we also anticipate that football will be fast-paced and exciting. We are very excited about the start of a new chapter for the Australia Cup in 2022.”The Australia Cup name was made official on Network 10’s live and free coverage of the last ever FFA Cup match, held this evening in the FFA Cup Final 2021 between Melbourne Victory FC and Central Coast Mariners FC, at Melbourne’s iconic AAMI Park (kick-off 8pm AEDT).The broadcast included the airing of a video showcasing some of the origins of the Australia Cup and reflecting on its history, with comments from winners Joe Alagich, John McDaid, John Brown, Alistair Scott, Stan Ackerley, and Ray Baartz, as well as football historian George Cotsanis.

Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania report of AFC Champions League assesses the cost of competition for players and clubs

FIFPRO Asia/Oceania has published a report on key financial findings from the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) flagship club competition, the AFC Champions League (ACL).

The report, AFC Champions League Analysis Report: Counting the cost for players and clubs, was produced alongside sporting intelligence agency Twenty First Group (TFG).

This analysis is in response to the announcement of AFC Champions League Elite (ACLE) commencing in July this year, as revealed by the AFC in December 2022.

Based on TFG’s analysis, insights and feedback from participating players and clubs, the report addresses the feasibility of running ACLE with key factors including on-field quality and competitive balance, attendances and fan engagement, economics for clubs and players, travel and workload, competition design, and football development outcomes.

The research undertaken focusses on the value of introducing ACLE, based on the current operations of the ACL.

“This report analyses the merits and drawbacks of the current AFC Champions League based on various data and the results indicate that the merits do not outweigh the drawbacks for most players and clubs, making it an unsustainable system,” FIFPRO Asia/Oceania Chair Takuya Yamazaki outlines in the report.

“However, this does not mean that the future of football in Asia is bleak. On the contrary, we believe that this economically significant region can lead a discussion for truly sustainable competition formats.”

The report is the most comprehensive public analysis of the ACL and includes recommendations for what the AFC should be implementing.

“For players, the development of competitions is central to their employment conditions and future opportunities. As its primary workforce, the players are determined to play their role to shape a sustainable and innovation-driven future for the football sector in Asia,” Yamazaki added.

World Leagues Forum is involved in representing professional football leagues on a global level. General Secretary Jerome Perlemuter explained that collaboration between all stakeholders in the Asian region would help shape and deliver sustainable competitions.

“FIFPRO’s contribution to shaping the future of Asian continental competitions is most welcome,” Perlemuter said.

“Sustainable football development requires confederations, leagues and players to work together with a common objective to shape high potential continental competitions in a consistent global calendar. In this context, it is important to consider economic, geographical and cultural specificities. We look forward to continuing these discussions with FIFPRO and all stakeholders.”

To see the report in full, you can do so here.

Wellington Phoenix team up with Chinese outfit Tianjin Tiger

Wellington Phoenix have partnered with Chinese Super League team Tianjin Tiger to boost football growth in both nations.

As part of the Wellington Phoenix Tianjin Tiger Sister City Friendship, the clubs have agreed to hold an annual encounter between their men’s first teams.

The inaugural Wellington Phoenix F.C. vs. Tianjin Tiger F.C. Sister City Shield match is set to take place in Tianjin this September, with the second in Wellington next year.

The strategic collaboration was formed after Phoenix general manager David Dome visited Tianjin in September as part of a business delegation headed by Wellington Mayor Tory Whanau.

The club hosted a delegation from Tianjin, and the two sides signed the Memorandum of Understanding at the Mayor’s office.

Phoenix general manager David Dome was thrilled with the partnership going through.

“The mayoral delegation to China last year was invaluable and I’m thrilled about this partnership with Tianjin Jinmen Tiger, which will be of benefit to the club on multiple levels,” he said via press release.

“Not only will the men get to play a Chinese Super League side as part of their A-League pre-season each year, but the academy will soon benefit from an influx of footballers from Tianjin.

“We’re looking to grow our academy to have an international component and Tianjin Jinmen have committed to sending some young players to Wellington to attend training camps in July and we’re discussing the possibility of their juniors being part of a new international academy annual programme.

“International students are essential for the secondary and tertiary education sector in Wellington and we are evaluating how an elite international academy focused on football can be part of New Zealand’s international education offering.”

Wellington mayor Tory Whanau added that the city is excited about the opportunity. 

“I’d like to congratulate David Dome and the wider team for the work they’ve done on this MoU,” he stated via press release.

“I’m beyond stoked that the delegation last September has resulted in this MoU between the Wellington Phoenix and Tianjin Jinmen Tiger. 

“The development opportunities for both the clubs will be invaluable to not only football but also our cities.”

The Phoenix are enjoying a successful A-league campaign where they currently sit top of the table 18 games into the season.

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