The considerable challenge facing Asia’s coaching elite

Ange Postecoglou

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is home to a litany of successful, transformative and triumphant coaches, many of whom have left an indelible mark on the region for years to come. However, the extensive measures put in place by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) leave these coaches facing a monumental effort in their attempt to progress their career – coaching amongst the elite of European club football.

The documented challenges faced by Socceroos Asian Cup winning coach Ange Postecoglou in taking on the managerial role at Scottish powerhouse Celtic FC is a significant example recently. Postecoglou’s Australian Pro coaching license – which is the highest level of coaching qualification in Asia – was not recognised as an equivalent to UEFA’s Pro coaching licence, a requirement for coaches in the continent.

In Postecoglou’s case, the appointed Celtic Head Coach was recognised by the UEFA Coaching Convention for his prior experience and success and pro diploma in the AFC, with the clutch that he had to undergo a Recognition of Confidence procedure to determine his aptitude. Following this UEFA convention process he received a ‘certificate of competency’ that now allows him to coach Celtic parallel to completing his UEFA Pro licence.

Ange coaching

Such a process is no doubt unnecessarily extensive, particularly for a coach of Postecoglou’s calibre. Moreover, it is an even greater toil of a process for AFC coaches who lack Postecoglou’s years of experience. As even though an AFC Pro Diploma relates to the UEFA A License, it is not the UEFA equivalent.

FIFA’s efforts to establish a cross-confederation recognition of coaching licences have gained little traction within the UEFA confederation to date.

Coaches with non-UEFA credentials are forced to undergo a process whereby they are assessed by a bureau of the Jira Panel – the body responsible for the developing and fostering of coaching and coach education across Europe – on a case-by-case basis and on request. There is no official agreement between UEFA and other confederations regarding the mutual recognition of coaching qualifications.

An initiative led by Head of Football Education Services at UEFA, Frank K. Ludolph in October 2019, represents the most recent effort to amend the UEFA Coaching Convention in support of non-UEFA coaches seeking recognition of their respective confederation’s pro licence by UEFA.

Among other recommendations, the initiative suggested that for recognition of non-UEFA coaching qualifications to be considered, the coach would need to have at least five years’ experience coaching a team of the club or the national team of a FIFA member association at the relevant training level and the relevant coaching qualification which meets UEFA’s minimum criteria.

“The procedure determines whether these competences are ‘recognised’. This means coaches will need to compile supporting documents for the procedure, go through the assessment and convince the assessors (expert panel) that they possess the required competences,” Ludolph stated in his letter address to the Jira Panel.

“If the assessment is successful, the coach will receive an official UEFA Recognition of Competence certificate, not a UEFA diploma/licence. This certificate will be valid for three years and will be renewed if the coach in question completes 15 hours of further education with a UEFA member association in that time, in accordance with the further education requirements applicable to UEFA licence holders. Recognitions of competence will remain transferable between UEFA member associations that are parties to the UEFA Coaching Convention.”

Postecoglou and many Australian coaches – including Bristol City’s Tanya Oxtoby and the recently announced Juventus coach Joe Montemurro – befit the aforementioned recommendations, however change has been a slow and laborious process with little eventuating from these recommendations.

Tanya Oxtoby Bristol City

The challenging circumstances that Australian coaches have found themselves in overseas have been well-documented, but it is often out of a sheer desire to make the step up that leaves coaches trapped in complicated and indefinite contracts.

Speaking at a Football Coaches Australia (FCA) webinar last year were international lawyers Josep Vandellos and Susanah Ng and Australian lawyer Peter Paleogolos. Their inclusion in the webinar was essential in shedding light on the at times vague and difficult contract situations faced by coaches overseas.

FCA CEO Glenn Warry, who facilitated the webinar, said that the following key issues emanated from the experts’ presentations that focused on how a coach’s role can be defined within their coaching contract overseas according to their qualifications.

“Ensure your role as coach and other appointments such as football director and head of football are clearly defined in the contract,” he said.

“Only football coaches and clubs will have the standing to stay in proceedings before the FIFA legal bodies. Therefore, it is crucial that the designation of a ‘coach’ is included on the Contract (and that the job scope at the very least refers to some coaching duties) if the coach is to be appointed in a dual role.

“The object of contract represents the work that the coach engages to render in favour of the club. It is important to make sure the job for which the coach is recruited is accurately defined as: Head Coach, Assistant Coach or Goalkeeper Coach.”

The struggles experienced by Australian and Asian coaches in attempting to progress their career are inherently stifled by guidelines that appear to act as a preventative, rather than as a method to ‘upskill’ coaches who would no doubt be capable of matching it against the very best if given the role. Warry elaborated further by stating: “Australian coaches who wish to coach in Europe should carefully plan their professional development and coach education pathway. For Australian players who play in Europe, or coaches with dual nationality, the UEFA Coach Accreditation pathway may be more appropriate.

Montemurro Coaching

The appointment of Postecoglou and Montemurro to the Celtic and Juventus roles respectively is pivotal for not just the recognition of Australian coaches, but coaching professionals right across the AFC. And, dependant on the success that comes Montemurro’s and Postecoglou’s way, it may be the instigator of change that the region is crying out for.

Northern NSW census results reveal fantastic participation growth in all age groups

Northern NSW Football participation numbers

Northern NSW Football’s (NNSWF) annual census results have showed that the region is quickly expanding in all the important areas of growth.

The census, which included information from July 1 2022 to June 30 2023, highlighted that the Total Registered Participants number reached 82,018, a 19% increase, whilst registered players were 73,766 with a 20% increase.

Miniroos and Youth participation, which was a main focus for Northern NSW in their 2021-23 strategy plan, both saw a 9% rise, whilst the 19+ senior age group rose 4%.

Importantly, registered volunteers were up 19 per cent with registered match officials increasing eight percent meaning a better foundation is created at the grassroots level for it to run as efficiently as it can.

There has been a nation-wide effort, headed by Football Australia’s strategy plan, to try and bring 50/50 gender parity for grassroots football, and the census results suggest that 74% of participants are Male which is a 5% swing on the 2022 numbers.

There is a long way to go to achieve this goal but after the recent Women’s World Cup and record numbers for participation and Liberty A-league attendance, there’s no doubt this will continue to swing towards parity for 2024 and beyond.

NNSWF General Manager of Community Football Ross Hicks expressed his delight for what the results mean for the region.

“It is really important that our numbers within our competitions continue to increase,” Hicks said via Northern NSW press release.

“The number of registered winter players is up by eight per cent with a total of 54,358 which is significant. This increase is crucial in helping the game continue to grow and we hope that we see these trends continue to help build the future of football within northern NSW.”

NNSWF CEO Peter Haynes was similarly pleased with the results and overall growth.

“It’s fantastic to see the participant numbers across our game in northern NSW increasing,” Haynes added via press release.

“These numbers are not just a result of the job NNSWF are doing but the immense strength of our game and the high-quality experiences delivered by our member zones and clubs throughout our region.”

There are plenty of positives coming out of the annual census results for Northern NSW Football and it certainly highlights an element of growth and sustainability for the near future where the future of the sport seems brighter than ever before.

A-Leagues and PFA strengthen commitment to stamping out social media abuse

A-Leagues. PFA and GoBubble

The A-Leagues and Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) are continuing their collaboration with GoBubble Community to stop social media abuse towards Australia and New Zealand’s professional men’s and women’s footballers, through to at least 2027.

First established in April 2022, the use of GoBubble’s artificial intelligence is key to identifying and blocking abusive, derogatory, harmful or offensive content.

GoBubble has implemented an automated solution that picks up sentiment and is tailored to the needs of all organisations in real-time, for example if an ongoing issue presents itself.

The GoBubble partnership is one of the first in its kind when monitoring an entire sporting league. Since the A-League’s adoption, the English Premier League and German Bundesliga and other sports rights holders globally now use technology successfully.

Since April 2022, GoBubble’s technology has protected A-Leagues players and clubs’ social media accounts, with more than 13,000 abusive comments blocked.

The A-Leagues, PFA and GoBubble (through the new GoBubble Foundation launching in 2024) will be running community outreach projects to provide access to the cutting-edge technology for those who play the role in protecting young people in their digital lives.

A-Leagues Commissioner Nick Garcia reiterated that abuse in any form is not accepted:

”Our footballers and clubs provide great entertainment to their many fans across Australia and New Zealand, both on the field as well as through social media content.

“Just like we work to ensure our stadiums are safe for our players and fans, we are also, through GoBubble Community, focused on making social media a safe space for them.

“Online abuse is absolutely not acceptable in football or any walk of life, so we are thrilled to extend our vital partnership with GoBubble Community.”

PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch praised the efforts of GoBubble so far:

“Our collective ambition is to make the A-Leagues the safest competition in world football for players and fans, and that extends to ensuring everyone’s experience online is the best it can possibly be.

“GoBubble has proven to be the most effective way for our players to add a layer of protection online, so that they can continue to engage with fans and grow our football community.”

GoBubble Founder Henry Platten commended the A-Leagues and PFA approach to abuse:

“The A-Leagues’ innovative approach in providing our sentiment artificial intelligence (AI) for all member clubs has positively impacted the digital lives of millions.

“Football is the beautiful game, and by working in partnership with the A-Leagues and PFA, our patent-pending technology is helping everyone enjoy it without the risk of suffering hate or abuse online.

“We care about respectful communication at scale and are proud, together with the A-Leagues and PFA, to deliver another world first in 2024 by providing access to our AI through the GoBubble Foundation to education and charitable organisations working with schools in Australia.”

eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant shared the importance of sustaining this technology:

“It’s great to see this successful partnership being extended to ensure players and fans alike can continue to enjoy the sport they love without being subjected to harmful content.

“Online abuse is an insidious problem that affects all sporting codes from elite to community level, so it’s important that initiatives like this continue to receive support.

“While we might be disappointed with a particular call or play, that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to unleash a torrent of online abuse. Smart use of safety technologies is an important tool in every football club’s arsenal.

“eSafety has developed specialist resources with sporting organisations and integrity units to help deal with the issue. You can find these resources and report abuse at

The research so far:

The issue of abusive behaviour on social media was examined closely by the Australian eSafety Commissioner in their Online Hate Speech report which indicated “around 1 In 7 (14%) adults aged 18–65 are estimated to have been the target of online hate speech.”

The Report also reflected on the negative impact of hateful social media content, finding that “58% (of people experiencing hate speech) report a negative impact from their experience, typically mental or emotional stress, relationship problems or reputational damage.”

Separately, the recent FIFA World Cup 2022 held in Qatar was also examined through the FIFA/FIFPRO Social Media Protection Service Report: Qatar 2022 Analysis. It reported that “targeted individual racism was high volume with more than 300 players being targeted.”

The report indicated 286,895 abusive, discriminatory and threatening comments were detected targeting World Cup participant accounts with sexism, homophobia and racism among the most detected abusive messages.

As proud signatories of eSafety’s Commitment to Online Safety in Sport, A-Leagues and PFA see this extended partnership as a further step in helping to keep all Australians safe online, and a key prevention strategy for athletes and staff who are targets of online abuse.

Find out more about GoBubble Community on their website –

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