Sport, without spin, from around the world. Matthew Hall considers the issues behind the headlines and tells the stories that others don't.
World Cup war questions Australia's national identity
If Australia's bid for the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup does nothing else it has, at the very least, kick-started a debate about what this nation is today and what the nation may or may not want to be in the future.
The unwitting fire starter has been the now well-publicised and misleading comments by the disingenuous chief executive of the Australian Football League.
As you by now know, AFL boss Andrew Demetriou claimed on one hand he is supportive of the World Cup possibly coming to Australia but revealed a fiery flipside claiming (incorrectly) the tournament might destroy his sport's season, as well as bankrupt a few AFL clubs.
[Side note: As one colleague pointed out to me, "If the AFL and Football Federation Australia have met 14 times in 18 months, as has been claimed, why have they not achieved anything?" Good point.]
This issue has arisen over use of scant venues in Melbourne with Demetriou doing his job as best he could – making sure his Aussie Rules benefits from a football (that's soccer) World Cup being held in his backyard.
But the subtext became headline news.
Melbourne's media and many of the town's footy "celebrities" took Demetriou's calculated stand as the enabler to let loose a whole lot of hate.
This was, in turn, picked up by an element of the great unwashed Melbourne public.
"Soccer" is foreign.
"Soocer" is for cheats.
"Soccer" is un-Australian.
The "indigenous game" is "our great game" (the use of "indigenous" is interesting, using it to signify pride and strength rather than describe a group of people often allowed to live in Third World conditions).
Keep our "Aussie" kids away from soccer, is the message, because before you know it they will want to know what exists beyond the boundaries of Glen Waverley, Footscray, Ballarat, Wodonga, and - even - the horizon.
Meanwhile, the internationalist World Cup cheer squad in the other corner feel the naysayers are a bunch of VB-swilling bogans, village idiots stuck in the 1950s who only care about what's being grilled on the backyard barbie.
Oh, and maybe who won the Preliminary final between Carlton and Hawthorn.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Heck, some people even find Daryl Somers and his Hey Hey It's Saturday TV show funny.
Australia's World Cup bid is fast becoming a cultural civil war.
Another battleground is Australia's relationship with the United Kingdom, particularly England.
England, of course, is mounting a bid for 2018, so is a direct rival to Australia's ambition.
Its bid has recently hit the skids but the recently-arrived High Commissioner to Australia (that's an "ambassador" in plain English) has declared England "cares more about 'soccer'" than we do so should host 2018.
Baroness Valerie Amos, for she is she, was previously a member of England's bid committee so should be expected to hold such a view.
"I think England is a place where you have people from across the world who all support 'soccer', as you would say here," she said.
"They would be really interested in going out and supporting teams from right across the world."
"Supporters of football come from everywhere in England. They come from all walks of life, from every part of the country, they are male and female, they are culturally diverse … the next year will be all about making sure people understand how keen we are."
The baroness could easily have been speaking about Australia.
Even, perhaps, Melbourne.
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