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Change The Face of Soccer in Australia

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The article by Steve Georgakis and Simone Molloy explored why soccer, which has been perceived as the sleeping giant of sport in Australia, has been unsuccessful in converting high levels of youth participation into elite-level success. The article explores the transformations that soccer has been through since 2002 for the sport to reach its full potential. The Liberal Government 2002 established an independent soccer review committee to address the issues that had been afflicting the sport thus the Crawford report was produced making 53 recommendations to regenerate soccer in Australia.

There were several issues that had plagued the sport prior to 2002 which resulted in bankruptcy and the new need for public funding, however in order to achieve this the league needed to answer why the elite level of the sport had become so dysfunctional and failed to excel at an international level. One of the main issues that stigmatized the league was the ethnic nature of the sport and the stereotypes and public attention this garnered. The view of soccer during this time was a way for the clubs to settle ethnic grievances on the soccer pitch which led to scholars creating a link between ethnicity and violence in the sport. The outcome of these studies became a deterrent for Australians to support the sport. The ethnic nature as well as negative stereotyping of being a “second class citizen” became a predominant reason potential fans stayed away from soccer.

In order to establish why the league had been plagued by issues, the Liberal Government focused on broadening the scope of soccer in Australia to make it mainstream by creating a committee to address the grievances. The Crawford report was produced in 2002 and outlined 53 major changes that needed to adapt in order to change the face of soccer in Australia starting with the establishment of the governing body Football Federation Australia and the name change from soccer to football in the hope of appealing to the wider public. The creation of a geographical competition, the A-League, was a major transformation that was established to create statewide support rather than a competition based on ethnic division which isolated other fans who did not share the same ethnic grievances. The new league was a way to mix the new and old fans to create a new football culture. The shift meant that there was a renewed interest in the game and new support for the national team.

Gender is briefly woven into the article by mentioning the success of the Matilda’s in broadening the appeal of soccer. The article states that with the increased success of the Socceroos since the Crawford report was published, Matilda’s profile has increased and allowed the sport to broaden. The Crawford report suggested that with increasing female participation rates in the game, the league should be expanded to broaden the scope to increase fan support. The W league was in turn created to increase not only the fan base but young female youth participation. The Crawford report saw the potential to increase the success and overall popularity of soccer in Australia by broadening the scope to include women. The choice to include women was of a financial incentive rather than on the basis on inclusivity, the Crawford report suggested that the inclusion of women would open up the market and increase revenue.

The overall analysis by experts to change the face of soccer in Australia was to implement several changes to awaken what was considered the “sleeping giant” of the sport. By changing the ethnic nature of the game and the creating of a geographically supported national competition whilst opening the sport to including women the newly created FFA hoped to create a new football culture in Australia. The changes implemented by the FFA that were recommended by the Crawford report led to a new demographic of fans and led to strengthened ties with Asia. The newly implemented structural changes led to broadening the league with success even though the league is still in a catch-up phase.


  1. Georgakis, S. and Molloy, S., 2014. From old soccer to new football? Expert accounts of transformations on the world game in Australia post-Crawford Report. Soccer & Society, 17(1), pp.72-89.

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Change The Face Of Soccer In Australia. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 18, 2022, from
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