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Optus secures FIFA Club World Cup rights

Optus Sport

Optus have become the new rights holders of the FIFA Club World Cup, during 2019 and 2020 which are hosted by Qatar in both years.

Optus, who already have major competitions English Premier League and UEFA Champions League exclusively, have added the FIFA Club World Cup to bolster their football coverage for their subscribers.

After claiming live and exclusive rights to the top tier of English women’s football, the Barclays FA Women’s Super League for the next three years in Australia, Optus have pounced on the FIFA Club World Cup as the competition is not far from starting.

Optus’ coverage won’t be the first time a FIFA tournament has been on their network, as they broadcasting the full 11 days pf the FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this year in France.

Optus’ new venture of the FIFA Club World Cup is an international club football tournament that pits each winners of the six different continental confederations from last season, as well as the host nation’s (Qatar) league champions.

So for example, Liverpool will participate in this year’s tournament for winning the UEFA Champions League.

Ahead of Optus commencing their new area of coverage, Richard Bayliss the director of Optus Sport spoke about their commitment to providing Australian’s with the world’s leading teams in the top competitions on Optus Sport.

“We are extremely pleased to add this tournament to our football schedule and we’re confident our 700,000 plus Optus Sport active subscribers will enjoy the format,” Bayliss said.

“Broadcasting Liverpool’s sixth Champions League triumph was a massive moment for Optus Sport, and it will be a privilege for us to show the Reds’ attempt to overcome the best of South America, Asia, North America and Africa. Brazil’s Flamengo had a stunning Copa Libertadores win in November, so they too will enter the World Cup in ominous form.”

Coming into this year’s tournament, Real Madrid are the reigning FIFA Club World Cup champions and are the most successful club in this tournament’s history with four titles.

In their place are Liverpool this time as the last UEFA Champions League winners in 2019, and will appear in the FIFA Club World Cup for the second time, since losing the final in 2005.

As part of the coverage, Optus Sport will stream every match live and exclusive, as well as offering on-demand and mini-matches combined with various highlights packages throughout the tournament.

They’ll be a new live show called Scores on Sunday hosted by various presentations including Mel McLaughlin, Richard Bayliss and Niav Owens, while they’ll be plenty of analysis and opinion from some of Australia’s leading pundits such as Heather Garriock, Mark Schwarzer, John Aloisi and Alicia Ferguson on all that happens during the tournament.

Football Victoria reveal discipline report for 2019 season

Football Victoria have released their 2019 Discipline End of Season Report.

This report showcases disciplinary issues throughout the 2019 season, as well as highlighting trends in relation to categories such as Misconduct, Tribunals, Red and Yellow Cards.

These were some of the key findings from the report:

Misconduct

  • There was a total of 360 misconduct charges in 2019
  • There was a 70% increase in misconduct charges heard at the tribunal
  • Only 29% of those misconduct charges were against players

Tribunals

  • 54% increase in the number of tribunals held
  • A total of 63 tribunals took place in 2019
  • 37% were incidents that occurred at junior fixtures (up from 27% in 2018)

Red Cards

  • 31% increase in offensive, insulting, abusive or intimidating language or gestures
  • 21% decrease in the number of offences against match officials
  • 7% increase in the number of red cards handed out
  • 1601 red card offences
  • 73% of red cards were issued at junior fixtures

Yellow Cards

  • 11,480 yellow cards
  • 16% decrease in yellow cards on the 2018 season
  • 2017 and 2018 had over 13,000 yellow cards issued in each season respectively
  • 2019 saw yellow cards for team officials introduced in the NPL. This led to a dramatic reduction in expulsions from the technical area for team officials. (96 in 2018 – 60 in 2019)

Serious sanctions in 2019

  • There were a number of long-term suspensions in 2019, including three life bans. There weren’t any life bans issued in 2018. One 10-year ban and ten 2-year bans added to the list of serious sanctions in the 2019 season.
  • 84 points were deducted from teams across Victoria (not including suspended penalties) – a 75% increase on the 2018 season (some of these deductions affected league championships and promotion and relegation)
  • Fines for misconduct/tribunals in the amount of $103,475.

The full copy of the report can be viewed here.

 

FFA’s appointment of James Johnson is promising but where in the world does he start?

The Australian football community cheered as a collective with Friday’s official FFA announcement that James Johnson would take the reigns as Chief Executive Officer.

The primary reason for such a reaction is two fold. Many will see the departure of former CEO David Gallop as potentially the best thing to happen to the game on our shores for some time. Seen as a risk adverse, conservative and football novice by many, Gallop failed to build trust in relationships nor any belief in his approach throughout his reign.

The site of the CEO of Australian football enjoying champagne celebrations after successful Socceroo qualifications and wonderful Matilda victories only made critics and cynics irate. Most saw football as his second or third language at best, with his rather ponderous time involved in the game of rugby league also cited as another reason behind his mostly ineffectual time at the FFA.

The second reason for the broadly positive acceptance of the appointment of Johnson is quite clearly that the initial perception and hope around his ascension to the top job will bring exactly the opposite of what we currently have.

Those invested as stakeholders in the game, all the way from the local parks to the boardrooms of some of the most powerful clubs in the land, hope that Johnson’s football DNA is strong enough to bring about the structural and cultural changes that the game needs to undertake in order to grow and prosper.

Nothing brings ‘football cred’ like playing the game and Johnson’s career with the Brisbane Strikers and the fact that he also loomed on the radar of national selectors in restricted age play during the late 1990’s, gives him just that. Now a lawyer, and after a burgeoning career in sports administration and governance, where he worked with the PFA, AFC and FIFA, Johnson returns home to Australia and will attempt to clean up what many believe is a football mess

Johnson has spent his recent past as Senior Vice-President External Affairs at the City Football Group, no doubt an asset considering the group’s now global footprint in the game. His awareness of the eight different leagues into which City Football Group have become involved with will no doubt ensure Johnson sees the Australian game through the global lens required and not an A-League restricted bubble.

With a reputation for intelligence, collegiality and creating effective channels of dialogue between stakeholders, Johnson will take the reigns in January with myriad issues demanding his immediate attention. Unifying the game will be his most urgent matter of business, yet there are a number of more short term steps that will, if taken, convince people even further that he is the man to lead the game into it’s next phase.

Accelerating the creation of a national second division that brings Australian clubs under the one umbrella is vital and something that fans have seen stalled countless times by those previously charged with its implementation.

Related Article: Phil Moss: Australian football coaches deserve better

Ensuring fans of the Australian game are permitted to support actively and avoiding the ludicrous sight of domestic supporters being escorted from stadiums for merely standing, is also key. Opening lines of communication between the FFA, stadium authorities and security companies could perhaps create some common ground and understanding.

The cost of junior football also looms on the horizon for Johnson, with an urgent need for a restructure of the expenses involved for parents of junior players. Ticket prices, stadium development and the correct expansion of the women’s game will also occupy much of his thinking in the near future.

As daunting as many of those issues sound and as difficult as the way forward may be, Australian football fans are speaking hopefully and positively about their new CEO. If he is able to use his experience and skills to implement real change and briskly, it will confirm to many that the previous CEO was doing little more than letting the game down and holding it back.

If not, Johnson will also begin to feel the pressures and weight of expectation, so clearly evident amongst passionate football fans.

Curbing facilities shortage by the power of virtual reality

It may still seem like a speculative idea that doesn’t appeal to everyone, but virtual reality (VR) could be a revolutionary way of seeing and feeling soccer and any other sport.

The potential is enormous for the use of VR – using this technology would mean watching a match for instance can become a much more immersive experience.

When fully maximised, sporting clubs can take advantage of VR technology and offer fans new experiences they have never seen before. Here are some of the positive uses of VR which revolve around simulation.

Seeing a game from a player’s point of view: If there’s a top performer in a league and their performance needs analysing, vision could be from their own point of view. Similar to GPS technology, it offers a visual demonstration and greater depth into a player’s work rate and positioning – perfect for young players coming through in need of some guidance.

Access to a sold-out game: There’s nothing worse than trying desperately to get tickets to a big occasion, only to miss out on a spot by a matter of seconds. It’s an amazing feeling going to a packed-out stadium for a final or derby clash overseas, but unfortunately not everyone can attend and instead watch from a TV. However, for the thousands that still want an equal experience of actually being there, VR can offer just that by creating the atmosphere and a 360 degree view of a ground.

Training for different scenarios: Match practice is important for testing out game plans, but requires all players to be fit at once to see how they all gel. VR could help assess what works and what doesn’t, with players potentially seeing themselves and their temmates in action from different angles. It extends further to medical staff as well, who in their training can see different situations in which they are called upon. VR can replicate different settings so that medicos are fully prepared.

The main purpose of VR is to give players, coaches, staff and fans a new perspective that they wouldn’t have seen before. It makes it easier for a sporting team to learn and ensures fans have a fair go with a similar experience to someone at a big game.

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