Craig Foster dinkus Dinkus Craig Foster dinkus Dinkus
Craig Foster dinkus Dinkus
Craig Foster dinkus Dinkus
The Perth Glory situation just made the unwelcome transition from “saga” to bona fide “debacle”, not to mention setting an extremely dangerous precedent for the future.
The change took place the moment Football Federation Australia conceded the decision to exclude Perth from the finals, rather than disqualify them from the season in entirety, was influenced by the fact that two betting agencies, and commercial partners, would have to pay out on bets placed on the wooden spoon. This was deemed “problematic”.
That it certainly is, and therein is the problem when sports accept money from the gambling industry, but not nearly as problematic as allowing betting companies or sponsors to influence decision-making of major professional competitions in order to avoid financial liability on bets they took knowing full well that penalties relating to breaches of competition rules are an industry hazard.
That, friends, is the very definition of problematic.
Salary cap rorting has happened many times before, in this and other sports and will undoubtedly happen again, so should have been factored into the risk equation for anyone in the business of taking bets on the outcome of a sporting competition.
However, the betting risk has now apparently been partly laid off to the game and we have sold our soul, not to mention our integrity, a word used repeatedly in the FFA’s own statements. Erroneously.
The integrity of the competition is exactly what is at stake here, but this decision strays far from protecting it, and in fact brings it into question. It is an extraordinary admission by a governing body of a sport, whose primary role is to administer the professional competition in the best interests of the clubs and the game, and these alone. An admission that, hopefully, will lead to national and parliamentary debate about the pitfalls of too-close commercial links between gambling and sport, of which we are now exhibit A.
If nothing else is achieved, this would be a positive byproduct.
The heart and soul of the game and the league are paramount and must take precedence over any other factors, and this very circumstance could quite easily have been contemplated by FFA when entering into commercial agreements with several betting companies, in any event.
There is some suggestion that relegating Perth to last place, which is the obvious and only right decision in the spirit and application of fairness, could have exposed FFA to legal challenges by those with bets placed on the Wanderers to finish last, which is definitely problematic.
But my question is, how much is the integrity of the competition worth? One legal challenge, two, a hundred? At what stage does one decide that finance alters what is right and just for the league, its participants and the game?
What has occurred is certainly not just, and the three clubs finishing below the Glory do their players and fans no justice by accepting the status quo. Sadly, it doesn’t stop there. On the day of the Glory’s challenge to the FFA board’s right to administer the sanction, a third show-cause notice for a further $100,000 breach contemplated in the public domain and to be issued two days later.
It was clearly to serve as a warning to bring Glory into line which is, in itself, worrisome. That evening, as the Glory accepted the sanction, the third notice was deemed unnecessary. It was, therefore, completely disregarded in order for the Glory to walk away. Deepest apologies to the Glory fans, who must feel under siege and, yes, I would like to visit Perth again one day, but this cannot be right.
FFA belatedly found, or more likely were led to, a further breach representing 25 per cent of the original $400,000, and simply dismissed it as though it was inconsequential. At the very least, and consistent with the original fines of half the monetary breaches, the Glory should have been docked a further $50,000.
Specifically, it brings into question why it was not found in the audit just undertaken. Further, it shows the governing body’s willingness to trade with the perpetrator to go quietly which, in my view, is a long way from protecting the integrity of the competition.
Integrity in this situation demands two things.
That each subsequent breach is punished fully and fairly, irrespective of how loudly the breacher pleads and complains, and that the Glory finish bottom, irrespective of the cost to betting agencies, who are happily taking people’s money when they set the market but change their tune when extraneous events that can and damn well should be contemplated disturb their profit-making capacity.
Gambling and sport should maintain legislative separation. Football may be several million dollars lighter in the pocket, but we would have avoided “problematic” situations like this that reflect badly on the game. Aside from the fact we should not be broadcasting matches with gambling ads to our largely young audience, the ethical and moral level, ergo the “integrity” of the game, is too easily cast aside. As is the case here.
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