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Football Victoria set to benefit Dockerty Cup Final move in Ballarat

It’s the most historic and long-lasting soccer competition in Victoria, but the Dockerty Cup Final in 2020 will pave the way for future growth for the game.

For the first time in its 110 year history, the competition’s final will move to a regional Victorian venue, the inaugural one being Morshead Park in Ballarat.

Football Victoria CEO Peter Filopoulos announced the decision at the 2019 final between Melbourne Knights and Hume City, which could be the start of an exciting change up to capitalise on what the whole of Victoria has to offer.

Holding a cup final in a regional city like Ballarat is something we haven’t seen before, but the possibilities are endless to attract greater exposure to NPL Victoria clubs.

With most clubs based in metropolitan areas, going far and wide to regional areas is a positive switch which can clearly mix things up.

And in turn, those in the regional areas will get a rare chance to see the very best of NPL Victoria right in their own local ground.

While it may be seen as a one-off or an experiment, this is definitely something that can be prolonged as one of the showpiece games for FV.

Before the next final takes place in August, FV have committed to work with the City of Ballarat to get themselves ready for a groundbreaking occasion.

When you think about it, you’ve got to think this can be a real success with the neutrals from Ballarat and fans travelling from far and wide to support their club.

Take the Western Bulldogs in the AFL for example, who play a couple of home-and-away games each season at Mars Stadium in Ballarat.

It’s been proven that locals in Ballarat can get behind a team and sport, so for FV’s Dockerty Cup Final it shouldn’t be any different.

Barcelona the most popular online club in China from Red Card report findings

Barcelona has overtaken fellow La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid to become China’s most popular soccer club online, based off Mailman’s 2020 Red Card report.

In Mailman’s 2020 rankings, it shows that Barcelona have risen significantly from fifth to first place since last year, mainly due off the back of their impressive growth on Chinese social media.

The club’s followers on Chinese social media platform Weibo went up from eight million to 16.3 million, a massive 104 per cent jump. In turn Barcelona improved on it’s engagement through Weibo, trending up 45 per cent from their 2018 efforts.

The club also gained huge exposure on short form video platform Douyin, with Lionel Messi’s penalty pass to Luis Suarez ranking as the fourth most watched video last year, accumulating 64 million views and 2.3 million engagements.

“[The award is] a testament to the effort, teamwork and innovation of all of those involved with FC Barcelona in China,” said Barcelona Board Member Didac Lee.

“Our challenge is to create content for China that is bespoke to the ever-evolving digital landscape, culture and habits of this market and we’re proud to be recognised for outstanding fan growth and engagement.”

In English Premier League standings, Chelsea are the most popular club from England and sit third in Mailman’s rankings overall.

There are two more Premier League outfits in the top five, with Manchester City and Manchester United in fourth and joint fifth alongside Juventus respectively.

City went up from ninth place in 2019 to leapfrog rivals United this year, while Liverpool are seventh, dropping down a single place.

The Premier League itself is the most popular competition with China’s digital community, ahead of the LaLiga which overtook the Bundesliga to claim second place. The German top-tier sits third, recording its lowest ever ranking.

“To receive this Red Card award for the second year running is a great honour and testament to the Premier League and our clubs’ loyal fanbase in China,” said Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters.

“We witnessed their passionate support during last year’s successful Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing and Shanghai, something that has been reflected by the growing popularity of our digital coverage in the country.”

Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular player with China’s digital soccer fans according to Mailman, ahead of Neymar and Lionel Messi respectively.

It’s the second consecutive year that Ronaldo has topped the poll, being one of the few players to see increased engagement and followers on Weibo despite a decrease in soccer-related user activity on the platform. Neymar found himself the most followed player on rival platform Douyin.

“I am very pleased with this award. I know that I have a huge part of fans in China and it means a lot to be on top of the table for the second year in a row,” said Ronaldo.

Chinese fans have contributed many commercial opportunities for European soccer clubs, with an estimated AUD$98.9 million of digital sponsorship revenue still on the table, according to Mailman.

2021 AFCON switches to winter due to heat

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has made the decision to move the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to the months of January and February, going against its plan to have the tournament during summer.

The AFCON has formerly seen winter months at its traditional time slot and is due to take place from January 9th to February 6th 2021. .

The African governing body, currently being presided over by FIFA General Secretary Fatma Samoura, cited extreme heat as the reason why they they made the decision to move the competition, however it also now prevents a clash with FIFA’s expanded Club World Cup in June 2021.

CAF’s announcement follows discussions with the Cameroon Football Federation (FECAFOOT), the host nation’s governing soccer body.

CAF Deputy General Secretary Anthony Baffoe confirmed the association’s decision.

“We have reviewed the period of the competition as requested by the Cameroonian party due to unfavourable climatic conditions during the period initially slated,” he said.

“After listening to the various arguments and viewpoints, and in particular from the Cameroonian meteorological authorities, the coaches and players; the representatives of the Afcon organising committee, which received the mandate from CAF Executive Committee to take the decision, has granted this request.”

English Premier League clubs are most likely to be affected with this news – the heavy scheduling around January time could mean that teams may miss key personnel for up to six games.

Some of the African stars that will depart across EPL sides:

  • Liverpool – Sadio Mane (Senegal), Mohamed Salah (Egypt) & Naby Keita (Guinea)
  • Manchester City – Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
  • Arsenal – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) & Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)
  • Manchester United – Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
  • Leicester City – Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
  • Crystal Palace – Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast) & Jordan Ayew (Ghana)
  • Everton – Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)

The biennial African national team tournament was meant to be hosted by Cameroon in 2019 but was reassigned to Egypt because of building delays, which lead to the Ivory Coast now hosting the tournament in the summer of 2023.

Despite having more construction time last year, Cameroon will need to get everything right six months earlier.

The 2019 tournament was won by Algeria through a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the final.

Football Victoria’s Community Shield matches to raise funds for bushfire appeal

The 2020 NPL/NPLW Victoria season begins in February and March with the traditional FV Community Shield games.

In what is a curtain raiser to each NPL season, both of these matches will raise funds that will be donated to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal.

The men’s match will see 2019 NPL Victoria champions Bentleigh Greens SC play against the current holders of the Dockerty Cup, Hume City FC.

The women’s match will have 2019 Nike F.C. Cup winners Calder United FC face NPLW Victoria runners-up FC Bulleen Lions.

These matches will both be played at City Vista Reserve, the brand-new home of Caroline Springs George Cross FC in Melbourne’s north west.

Further details for the matches are listed below.

Saturday, February 8 

NPL Victoria | Kick-off 5:00pm

Bentleigh Greens SC vs. Hume City FC
Tickets available at the gate: Adults $10, Concession $5, Children 14-and-under free

Friday, March 13

NPLW Victoria | Kick-off 7:45pm

Calder United SC vs. FC Bulleen Lions
Free entry – donate to the appeal on the night.

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