Posts tagged ‘World Champions’

Finding Her Identity

Last week’s result by the Socceroos securing a draw with World Champions Germany n Kaiserslautern was another feather in the cap of national team coach Ange Postecoglou. It was also a wonderful result on the back of the team’s Asian Cup victory.

Despite these successes there is something that Ange Postecoglou has managed to achieve that no other Socceroos coach has achieved, and for that the game should be eternally grateful.

Rale Rasic back in the Seventies awoke the nation with is team of part-timers making it to the World Cup in 1974 being one of just 16 teams that participated in the finals. It was almost a surreal experience according to those who remember it.

Guus Hiddink broke the jinx, and in truth had some luck in seeing the team qualify for Germany in 2006; in a penalty shoot-out the result can go anyway, unless you are playing Germany! Yet when the tournament started he showed his tactical acumen and managed to steer the team past the group stage, and almost past eventual Champions Italy.

Pim Verbeek achieved the remarkable steering the team to the 2010 finals conceding just a single goal against Japan in the final round of qualifying, with a team that was clearly on the wane. His mission was accomplished. He has suffered major criticism for the 4-0 defeat against Germany, yet the same team went on to beat England 4-1 and Argentina 4-0 before bowing out to Spain in the semi finals.

No one except the FFA and Holger Osieck will ever know what the total brief was at the time of his appointment. One key factor was another qualification for the World Cup which he achieved. He was criticised for not blooding enough young players, yet he achieved the task that he was set.

What all of these failed to do, that Postecoglou has managed to do in his short time as coach, was play a style of football that taps into the Australian psyche.

In the past week this writer has spoken to three people who confessed they never watched the Socceroos before ‘because they were boring.’ They still admitted they did not watch most of the game but they would tune in because the current team is ‘exciting to watch.’

There is no doubt that the Golden generation featuring the likes of Schwarzer, Viduka, Kewell, Bresciano, Grella, Neill and co, were technically more gifted than many of the current crop of players. There were also more of them playing football at a higher level than most of the current crop. Yet the team never managed to achieve what Postecoglou’s players have achieved.

Postecoglou is without doubt one of the best home grown coaches Australia has produced. Like many of the great coaches an injury curtailing his career – just as happened to Brian Clough – saw him enter management at a very young age. Success in the NSL was a regular achievement. When the A-league started he was coach of the national Youth team, which proved with hindsight to be a great learning experience. Back in club football in the new A-League with Brisbane Roar he again created a team that played attractive football and won championships. When he became national coach many wondered how he would fair and early results were not promising. Yet during those games a pattern was evolving.

A pattern that has seen Australia for the first time have a football team with an identity. By that we mean an identity in terms of the style of football that the national team plays.

Australian football under Frank Arok was again blessed with extremely talented players, many who were still forced to be semi-professional. The team was always combative, the team never ever gave up, but the style frequently changed depending on the opposition or the importance of the match.

It was the late Spurs and Northern Ireland captain Danny Blanchflower who once said “Our tactics have always been to equalize before the other team score.” It may sound crazy but one feels the sentiment is there in this Australian team.

Postecoglou has tapped into the Australian sporting Psyche, that Australians in every sport like to be the aggressor. Look at the Cricket team, the Wallabies, the Kookaburras, all are teams that are immediately on the front foot against their opposition. All of them like to take it up to the opposition and make them know that they are not in awe of them. Previous Socceroos coaches have focussed on trying to limit the scoring opportunities of the opposition and therefore tended to play very defensive football. It appears Postecoglou realises that currently Australia’s defensive stocks are not world class, and therefore the team is bound to concede against quality opposition. However rather than sit back and try and limit the damage, his teams go on the attack. The theory being that Australia will score more than their opponents. It is a style that has resonated with many Australians who have never followed the game, and he may well have finally given the nation a style that becomes synonymous with the Socceroos.

Japan knew they could never compete physically with the bigger European players, so they developed a fast paced game based on speed touch and fitness in order to be competitive and it has paid dividends to their national team and is now a style that is expected from their teams. They focussed on their strengths and improved their weaknesses.

Postecoglou has done exactly the same. He has tapped into Australia’s desire to be the team on the attack and a new style of football has evolved. A style that seems to have captured the public’s imagination. Hopefully is a style that can be maintained, and will just like Japan become synonymous with the Socceroos.

To quote the inspirational Danny Blanchflower again ” The great fallacy is that the game is first and last about winning. It is nothing of the kind. The game is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.” It would appear that Postecoglou shares those sentiments.

Blanchflower was a part of a Tottenham team that won the double and also steered Northern Ireland to the quarter finals of the 1958 World Cup in the same year he lost his brother Jackie in the Munich Air disaster. Spurs with him in the side played an attractive brand of football, a brand of football where they believed if the opposition scored one, they would score two.

It would appear the Socceroos under Postecoglou have the same sense of belief. It certainly appears that they have found a style that resonates with the people of Australia. Let us hope they continue to win fans over playing football in this manner and like Spurs and Northern Ireland with Blanchflower in their side are rewarded with success. Most of all let this be the style of football for which Australia is known.

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March 30, 2015 at 10:35 am Leave a comment

Hockey India League At A Roundabout Rather Than A Crossroads.

The bi-lateral agreement signed yesterday between Hockey Australia and Hockey India is good news for the Hockey India League, as it guarantees Australia’s top players will be free to participate in the competition for the next three years.

The league benefits Hockey Australia as its top players have the opportunity to earn a decent wage from the Hockey India League, which enables them to dedicate more time to the sport and focus on keeping Australia the number one team in the World. If the players were left to survive on their AIS funding they would find that the time spent focussing on the game would be severely restricted, as they would be forced to generate income in order to live day to day in Australia’s most expensive city, Perth.

This agreement is good news for Hockey India, but there is still a great deal to be done to keep the momentum of the competition moving in the right direction. This year has seen the standard of hockey lift to a new level, but despite the success on the pitch cracks are appearing off of it.

Crowds at games and viewing figures on Star Sports have been down; the reason, many believe, including the players and Franchise owners, is that Hockey India has failed to market the League adequately. There was next to no promotion leading into the tournament and most promotion was left to the Franchise owners who had already spent heavily buying a team and then bidding on the top players in the world and in India to be competitive.

Newspaper coverage leading into the tournament was hard to find; partly because the cricket World Cup was about to start and with India the defending Champions, many were focussed on their defending the title. This should have been foreseen and Hockey India should have either brought on board one of the newspapers as a sponsor/media partner, or bought editorial space to ensure coverage.

Marketing and promotion aside, the biggest challenge facing Hockey India and the Hockey India League in 2016 is that it will be an Olympic year. Speaking to overseas players participating in the tournament many have said that they fear their national association will not allow them to  head to India for five weeks in an Olympic year. One of the main reasons being that during that five week period their fitness levels drop off, as much time is spent travelling between cities prior to the team’s next game. In an Olympic year, teams cannot afford their top players fitness levels to dip.

A suggestion put forward by some of the players likely to be playing in the Olympic Games is that in an Olympic year Hockey India should run the Hockey India League like an international tournament. Meaning that the event be held in one city. It also should be played over a shorter period of time, – say a fortnight – with games coming thick and fast and on a daily basis. Players believe if this were done they would be free to play as their fitness levels would be maintained and they would not be away for an extended period of time. Hockey India needs to talk to a quorum of the top players from the 13 nations represented and sound out a consensus of opinion to ensure that next year the standard of 2015 is maintained.

In the long term they have to look at where each of the Franchises are currently based. Delhi, despite winning the League last year is not a hotbed for hockey, the team plays in a stadium that locals say is hard to get to with no parking available, and crowds have been poor. Mumbai have finished last for the second time in three years despite a new regime running a new Franchise; they were second last in 2014 by just a point. In fact in 32 HIL games the Mumbai franchise has won just four games!

There is an argument, and it is a strong one, that these two major cities in India should not have Franchises. There is talk of expansion with teams coming in from traditional hockey regions, such as Pune, a few hours from Mumbai, Bhopal and Bangalore. Many Hockey fans in India believe that these teams must come in as they will be well supported as Hockey is strong and has a great deal of tradition in these areas. The question is which team gets dropped, Mumbai or Delhi? Hockey India may not agree with such a statement but one of the two has to go if the League is to see the games played in packed stadia, which will in turn lift the atmosphere on television.

The bi-lateral agreement with Australia is crucial to the League’s future as there are more Australians, World Champions, playing in the league than any other nationality. The key thing will be the negotiations with the other top nations in the coming months and listening to their concerns and finding a format that suits all concerned.

After a wonderful tournament in 2015, it would be a shame to see the league take a step backwards in 2016. It would be a blow to the resurgence of Indian Hockey and ultimately a blow to the game worldwide.

February 22, 2015 at 4:32 pm Leave a comment

Attracting A Global Audience Key to Opening Game

It is quite laughable the reaction of the AFL affiliates and the media covering the sport in Western Australia to the news that there is a bid for the Socceroos to play England as the focal point of the New Stadium at Burswood. All it has done is show how stuck in the past they all are.

Sure a Western Derby is a big attraction in Western Australia for those who follow the code, but how does it compare to a top class international in football? That is the trouble AFL does not have a higher level than the AFL. Its hybrid games against the amateur Irish teams have an equally limited appeal as does the game itself does. Like many other national sports around the world if it is not going to catch on internationally in the first 100 years of its existence it is unlikely ever to.

We will be fed that old line that Perth is a “Football town,” a line fuelled by those with a vested interest. No city is more of a footy town than Melbourne, yet look how they embrace every sport at every level, by creating decent facilities and attracting major events. They are not so insular in their views and have now established themselves as the Sporting Capital in the country.

It is incredible to read Mr Cransberg, Chairman of the West Coast Eagles say that as the sport most likely to be the main user of the stadium they should be afforded primary consideration. Why? This stadium does not belong to the AFL it belongs to the taxpayers of Western Australia. The West Coast Eagles will merely be tenants just as will many other sports and musical acts.

Head of the WA Football Commission Gary Walton was quoted as saying, “International events come with pretty significant up-front investment where a derby will in my view guarantee a capacity crowd and it’ll come at no cost to the state.” What small minded insular thinking. It is people with attitudes such as this that hold Western Australia back.

This is supposed to be a state of the art stadium when it is completed, so why would you have as your opening event something that will only garner minimum media coverage within Australia. By hosting a top international sporting event you are immediately putting the stadium, and Perth on the world map as having a venue suitable for world class events. If England or World Champions Germany played the Socceroos you would be assured a sell out crowd. If the Wallabies played whoever lifts the Rugby World Cup at the end of this year it is just as likely to sell out, as would an Ashes Test match. The true code of Football however has to be the biggest drawcard, as it is a truly global sport. The fact is all of these sporting events played between international teams will have far more global and national appeal than a local AFL match, and anyone who says otherwise needs to get on a plane and go and experience the real world outside of Western Australia.

What is worrying is the bias and factual inaccuracies run by the West Australian Newspaper. Mark Duffield wrote that ‘the state government will, in three years time have forgiven Australian soccer officials for leaving Perth off its map of Australia when it drew up the Asian Cup Program.” Yes, they did fail to promote the tournament in the West, have any ambassadors or fan Parks, but the biggest problem was the only feasible venue, NIB Stadium fails to meet FIFA requirements. The FFA stated after the game against Indonesia at Subiaco Oval in 2005 that they would never host an international there again because it was unsuitable for television and spectators. Had the State Government spent some of the money allocated to the refurbishment of NIB stadium on upgrading the changing rooms, then Western Australia would have a case to answer as to why we were left out of having any games. The truth is it was our own government who are at fault on this occasion. (Build it Properly and they Will Come). Some cynics have questioned whether the Sports minister did this deliberately so that Football would not be able to challenge his beloved AFL; It is extremely unlikely that a politician would be that petty and small-minded.

So why would Mr Duffield mislead his readers? Then again you cannot expect Mr Duffield to know these things as being the Chief Football writer, his time would be taken up finding inane stories to keep AFL on the back page of the paper for 350 days of the year. It is also interesting to note that the WA Football Commission has in the past paid for editorial coverage in the West Australian, to ensure that they received two or four pages coverage, yet never did the paper reveal that the space was paid for.

To be fair to Mr Duffield he does make a valid point asking why should it be a sporting event that opens the stadium, why can’t it be a concert of epic proportions? The most obvious answer would be because it is first and foremost a sporting venue.

If we wanted mass exposure maybe looking at hosting the T20 Champions League in Perth would be an option. That would attract a massive audience in the subcontinent and would give thousands of people the chance to be a part of an opening event.

The truth is whatever event or events in what should be an opening week of celebrations are staged, they must be ones that attract global attention. Perth needs to shout about this stadium and the fact that finally we have a stadium to match the best in the world – if it in fact does. Only by global exposure will we attract future events.

It is also important to realise that only by hosting the Socceroos will we see European clubs put pressure on the FFA to have more games here as the flying time will be less for their players returning home! So Football’s case actually would have a long term gain.

 

 

February 13, 2015 at 6:33 am 1 comment

Reality Check

No one can deny that the performances by the Socceroos at the World Cup in Brazil were better than many expected, but we cannot forget that the team has returned to Australia having lost three games. Not only did they lose three games but they conceded three goals in all three games.

Reading some of the reports from Brazil and watching some of the pundits on television one would almost be lead to believe that it had been three wins. Maybe it is time for a little perspective.

Australia were the lowest ranked team at the World Cup. Their qualification for the finals had been less than convincing and the two 6-0 defeats against France and Brazil had many fans very concerned. The Football Federation of Australia sacked the incumbent coach Holger Osciek and opted for the hugely successful local coach Ange Postecoglou. A man many of in the media had been campaigning to take over for almost 12 months prior to Osciek’s departure.

The question was with so few players playing top flight football in the best competitions in the World how could Australia compete against the likes of Spain the defending World Champions and the Netherlands the losing finalists from four years ago.

That was the one thing that Postecoglou managed to do, he made the team competitive. He also showed his tactical nous, as he managed to negate the Netherlands for almost an hour in the Socceroos second match of the tournament. In fact had his players possessed a little more football maturity they could well have won that game, but once the Dutch equalised it was always only going to go one way.

However for all these plusses, international teams cannot afford to leak three goals and hope to win. Australia looked good going forward but they looked very shaky defensively. The old we will score more than we concede attitude will not work in international football.

We must also acknowledge that going forward two of the team’s best assets were veterans Mark Bresciano and Tim Cahill, two players who played at the highest level in the best leagues. With only four Australians contracted to English Premier League clubs heading into this season and none holding down regular first team spots (correction as below- Mile Jedinak is!)experience needs to be gained in the next for years.

The sad truth is the A- League is a long way off European football and is no match for the second tier of English competition, the Championship, despite what some scribes and pundits may claim. So too the Belgium league and the Eredivisie. Unless you are playing for one of the top sides in the Netherlands the league is more about development and the national team selects few from these sides. In fact in the demolition of Spain only two clubs in the Dutch domestic league were represented in the starting eleven, Ajax and Feyenoord. In fact only PSV Eindhoven has two other representatives in their squad.

One has to ask how much Australia would have gained had Mark Schwarzer been in Brazil. At the age of 40 he still held his own in the Champions League and the Premier League. Mat Ryan may have had a great first season in Belgium, but that is light years from International football, and sadly his understandable inexperience cost the team. What was baffling was that come the game against Spain Postecoglou did not give Mitch Langerak a game. A player playing in a better league than his team mate, and we were told that this competition was about blooding young players and giving them experience. Surely Langerak would have benefitted from a run in the final game?

Finally we come to Tim Cahill, whose volleyed goal against the Netherlands was without doubt one of the great World Cup goals; a goal up there with Marco van Basten’s volley for the Netherlands against Russia in the 1988 Euros. IT may well be the best goal ever scored by an Australian player on the international stage. Cahill also joined a unique band of players at the World Cup, having found the back of the net in three successive tournaments. He truly is a player for the big occasion. However is he Australia’s greatest player as some have tried to make out?

Of course when people talk about greatness it is subjective. What do you judge greatness on? Is it the most trophies won, it it purely on skill, is it a player’s influence on the team and those around him? Or is it a combination of all of these. Australian football has always classed Joe Marston as a great, so too Johnny Warren, but is Tim Cahill on a par with these? Is he on a par with Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka in terms of skill and ability? If Cahill is to be classed a great then surely a craftsman such as Bresciano deserves that accolade too? At the end of the day it all comes down to personal opinion, but it is often best to make such judgements when the emotion of a situation has dissipated.

Australia did perform better than expected and some young players showed potential, but in terms of international football this group of players has a long way to go before they match the class of 2006. The next two years before qualification for 2018 in Russia will be an interesting journey. Postecoglou is going to need a great deal of time with his players to mould them into a competitive side, and the FFA need to use all the international windows to aid their coach. More importantly Australian football needs its players to be playing first team football in better leagues than many are playing in at the moment. Then and only then are these players likely to live up to all the hype and fulfil their potential.

July 1, 2014 at 9:55 am 4 comments

Postecoglou Shows His Class as a Coach

If you want to annoy an Australian, call him English. Yet the World Cup may be proving that many Australians are in fact taking on a very English trait, that of accepting gallant defeat. The English have made it an art form and now it wold appear that the old adage ‘it matters not who won or lost but how you played the game,’ is being taken up by Australian football fans. Which is strange because Australia is a nation that hates to lose. Even merging on the roads is a competition that each Aussie driver wants to win.

Heading into the current World Cup in Brazil, no one gave Australia a chance. They had struggled through the qualifying games, were thumped by Brazil and France and had sacked their coach. It was by no means the ideal preparation and then they were drawn in a group with the two finalists from the 2010 World Cup, and Chile.

This writer for one thought it was going to be a humiliating tournament for the Socceroos. He has been pleasantly surprised.

Despite what many have said and written Australia did not play well against Chile. They had a period of the game where they did, but at the highest level you cannot make the errors that they did and expect to win. They created openings but the quality of the final ball into the penalty area was simply not good enough for them to seriously hope to win the match after giving away two cheap goals.

The game against the Netherlands last night however was a different proposition. Last night’s game and the second half of the Chile game showed the calibre of Ange Postecoglou as a coach. Last night Postecoglou had his tactics absolutely spot on against the Netherlands and his charges followed those instructions too a tee. They hassled and harried the Dutch. They frustrated them and at times that frustration looked like it was about to boil over, but credit to the referee he kept it under control. The pace and work rate of the players to close down space and limit passing options was like a five-a-side game. So good was it the Dutch resorted to a long ball game and Matthew Spiranovic managed to keep van Persie in check.

Australia went behind and there can be no doubt that Tim Cahill’s wonder volley a minute after conceding would have lifted the spirits of the team and given them a belief; sometimes that is all it takes one moment of sheer magic. This was undoubtedly that, and it will be a goal replayed and remembered for many years to come, and the number of people who claim they were there and saw it live will grow with time. Sadly a subsequent yellow card means it is likely to be Cahill’s last ever World Cup goal, but what a goal!

The Socceroos then took the lead thanks to a penalty, but the team’s naiveté saw them quickly surrender that lead. Not long after they had squandered a great chance to claim it back, they ended up conceding a third and after that there really was only ever going to be one winner. The third it has to be said coming, as good a strike as it was, from poor goalkeeping; Most ‘keepers at this world cup – with maybe the exception of the Russian – would have saved this shot. Mat Ryan at the moment simply does not have enough games at this level under his belt and was slow to get down to Memphis Depay’s shot. In fact he has not looked commanding at any stage, and has gone too ground a little too quickly.

Credit must go to all of the players for the gutsy display they put on, but credit must also go firmly with the Coach. Ange Postecoglou has show the style of football he likes his teams to play and has garnered success with that style with South Melbourne in the old NSL and Brisbane Roar in the Hyundai A League, but at this World Cup he has shown just what an astute coach he is. Some wondered how he would cope with a group of players thrown together, rather than having them day in day out at a club, but he has shown that he has managed to get the players to buy into his tactics and beliefs. There is no doubting he is up to coaching at International level and that this could well be the stepping stone to far greater things.

As well as Australia played against one of the best teams in the World they sadly still lost. They may will be heading home following Chile’s victory over Spain but they gave the Dutch an almighty scare and now many believe they may even upset the defending World Champions Spain who look like matching France in 2002 by being the second defending Champion to head home at the Group stage without winning a game.

Australian fans may well be smiling in defeat, something their English counterparts have done for years, but they will no doubt now be looking at the Asian Cup with a great deal more hope than when the team left for Brazil. If Postecoglou can eliminate some of the simple errors which at this level cost you games, the Soccceroos may well be challenging for the trophy at the start of 2015.

 

June 19, 2014 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Matildas Worth the Investment

Congratulations to the Matildas. They may not have retained the Asian Cup but they managed to make it to a second consecutive final and played well enough to deserve a draw, but it wasn’t to be. There can be no shame in losing to Japan, who are of course the current World Champions, Olympic silver medallists (Australia did not qualify) and had themselves been losing finalists on four occasions.

What was disappointing with the television coverage was the fact that we simply had the game shown, and at half time highlights of the Matildas semi final victory over South Korea. Where was the pre-match show, half time show or post match show? If this had been the Socceroos there would have been all of these and no amount of ex players giving their opinions on the game in the studio and down on the pitch. So why not the same for the Matildas?

If the Socceroos are afforded such analysis and coverage for meaningless friendly games, why are the Matildas not shown the same respect when they reach the final of a major international tournament? Especially when it is one that they are the current champions of.

The FFA constantly say how the women’s game is growing and their focus is on the women’s game, yet why are they not demanding equal coverage for the women?

Realistically the Matildas are Australia’s best hope of making a World Cup final and even winning it. As stated three years ago this group of women have the talent to match it with the World’s best. All they need is the right funding to enable them to have more camps and more games as a group.

Interim coach Alen Stajic did a great job steering the team to the final. He only took over the role 39 days ago, and maybe proved that he should have had the role when the FFA appointed Heseterine de Reus. Word is that the FFA have been speaking to other potential candidates during the tournament despite saying that “a comprehensive review of the Matildas program, including the Head Coach position, will be conducted after the tournament.” There is no doubt that they would be better off head hunting rather than going down the path that saw de Reus appointed, but it is a little disrespectful to be doing it while your interim replacement is steering the team to the final of the region’s biggest tournament. No doubt all who were approached would now jump at the opportunity.

Hopefully Stajic having achieved World Cup Qualification will be given the chance to take the team to the World Cup in Canada next year. Hopefully he will be given the funding to see the team iron out those issues that let them down in the final. According to the commentary ‘tiredness’ was one, with so many games in quick succession; however to compete at this level this should not be such an issue with the right preparation and support. Secondly keeping possession of the ball, their male counterparts, the Socceroos, are also guilty of giving away cheap possession due to poor passing. This will only improve on both fronts if the team plays together more or has more time in camp together. Compared to many of our Asian counterparts our teams would be brought together for only a quarter of the time their opponents spend in camps. In addition those girls not fortunate to gain a club overseas when the A-League finishes simply do not play enough football to maintain fitness and touch.

This was a performance to be proud of and there is no doubt these girls have the talent to make at least the semi finals of the World Cup next year and after that it becomes anyone’s game. First up a new coach needs to be appointed quickly, and Alen Stajic should be spoken to immediately on his return. Then the planning and preparation starts. Hopefully too we see these successful young ladies given the respect that they deserve and the media coverage to match it. There are plenty more teams playing women’s football than there are netball, so why should their coverage not be on a par with the likes of the Diamonds?

(Incidentally copies of the documentary “No Apologies” charting the journey to the World Cup in 2011 with Aboriginal stars Lydia Williams and Kyah Simon are still on sale. click on “No Apologies” to order).

 

 

May 26, 2014 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

The Return to The Ring

Following AIBA’s (International Amateur Boxing Association) announcement last year that professional boxers will be allowed to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, they have now raised the age limit for competitors from 36 to 40 years of age.

This is believed to have been done to accommodate current World Heavyweight Champion 38 year old Wladimir Klitschko who has previously stated his interest in competing at the Olympic Games again. Klitschko won the Super Heavyweight title at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. In 2016 he would be 40 years of age and now still eligible to compete.

Interestingly though as much as AIBA have opened the door for him to grace the Olympic stage again, the Ukrainian Boxing Federation initially stated that they would not support such a move; however there is plenty of time for them to change their mind.

Currently the new Olympic regulations prohibit professional boxers with more than 20 fights to their name from competing at the Games, but yet again a great deal can change in two years.

If this rule did change it would be a major coup for AIBA Chairman Dr C.K. Wu who has made it his mission to move away from the amateur ranks of boxing and try and unite and control the sport as one.

“I already have an Olympic Gold medal and it would be fantastic to get another 20 years later. I’d like to think that in two years time I will still have enough health and motivation to perform in the Olympics.” Klitschko is quoted as saying.

Of course these changes also open the door for the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather junior to compete in Rio, the only requirement would be that they participate in AIBAs Pro Boxing Tournament prior to the games.

In terms of television viewers the Olympic Games would welcome such possibilities, but one wonders if like tennis the Olympic gold will carry as much kudos with professional boxers who are World Champions participating. It may be good for the games, but it is not good for boxing. Fighters need to learn their craft and the Olympic gold medal was always a sign that a fighter was ready to turn professional, even though it was never a guarantee that a World Title would follow.

 

May 20, 2014 at 10:12 am Leave a comment

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