Jets Lead The Way Into Battle

August 4, 2014 at 11:39 am Leave a comment

Football loves to call itself “The World Game” and also the “People’s game.” In Australia, it would appear as much as these terms are bandied about no one really means them.

Ethnic names linking clubs or communities to their past are no longer acceptable. Even the traditional owners are no longer allowed to name a club in their native language. So suddenly calling yourself “the World Game” loses some of its ring of truth.

Then we have had the Paralympic football team lose 100% of its funding, an issue on which the FFA have been incredibly quiet. A petition signed by over 80,000 people has still seen no comment come from the men running the game. The same people who gave private owners of A-League clubs $250k each from the sale of Western Sydney Wanderers rather than keep that money and re-invest it into grassroots football, or heaven forbid the Paralympic program. A far from inclusive action from the men at the top.

Then we have had the massive hike in fees forced upon junior participants, with no discounts offered to families with more than one child playing the game. The cost increase is both prohibitive and elitist, and is seeing many families move their children away from the game. We could go on about the expectations, and costs of anyone wanting to coach people but you are probably getting the picture. The game is slowly being taken away from the people.

Further proof of this was revealed in June. It was then that the Football Federation Australia announced “measures to enhance and protect the unique atmosphere created by active supporters” at A-League matches.

A set of new protocols were to be introduced which included membership-only restrictions for active fan support areas; which simply means that fans in supporter groups now have to buy a membership to enter the new designated zones.The thought process behind this is that it will “grow membership and deepen fan engagement.”

It was obviously devised by an administrator who has never been a fan of a club in his or her life.

It appeared that these new restrictions were going to be accepted by all the A-League clubs as not one spoke out against them. There were rumblings from fans, but what could they do was a question many pondered.

The good news is one set of fans in the country have decided that enough is enough.

Newcastle Jets’ main supporter base, the Squadron, have announced that they will cease to exist on the terraces as long as the FFA intends to “restrict” active supporters.

The statement from the Squadron states “The Squadron FSC will be vacating the designated active supporter bay for the 2014-15 season, or until such time as these restrictions are removed. This is not an action against the Newcastle Jets, it is however a response to the absurd and overbearing one-size-fits-all FFA restrictions.”

These fans are to be applauded for their actions and it will be interesting to see if any other supporters groups follow their lead. Let us hope that they do.

It is time that the game was returned to the people, all people from all races able-bodied, sight-impaired or with any form of disability. It is time the people had a more active say in the running of the game, as too many decsions being made are to its detriment. The game does not belong to one group of individuals, it belongs to all, and the sooner those running it realise that the better it will be for the game and all who play or watch it.

 

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