Socceroos coach Graham Arnold has taken a swipe at politicians. including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who “lose” their supporter scarfs after attending matches as he again called them out for failing to properly fund the sport.
Ahead of the Socceroos’ meeting with England at Wembley on Saturday morning (AEDT), Arnold lamented the lack of financial support football received from the Australian government as he admitted to be envious of the English team’s national football centre, St George’s Park.
His comments came hot on the heels of former Socceroos manager Ange Postecoglou’s declaration that football would never become a mainstream sport in Australia.
“When you look at what the Matildas did at the (Women’s) World Cup: unbelievable, but you still won’t see an influx of resources to the game – I guarantee it,” Postecoglou said this week.
Arnold echoed Postecoglou’s sentiments.
“We see the Prime Minister and the governments, they love coming out to watch the Matildas and the Socceroos with scarves on, but they must lose them when they go home,” he said.
“I‘d love to see it (football at the forefront of Australian sport) but I don’t know if I will. “There was a great legend in Australian football many years ago called Johnny Warren, who said ‘I told you so’ (that football would become big in Australia) and nothing’s really happened since then either.
“We have a sport in Australia, AFL … which is the biggest in the country and there’s a lot of funds and a lot of money put into AFL, but it’s only played in one country.
“We’re playing in a world sport and we don’t get anywhere near the resources or the help that sport does.
“We are the highest participation sport at grassroots and don‘t have a home of football at all.
“When the Socceroos come to Sydney to train, we have to train on a rugby league field where they remove the posts and put soccer posts up – that’s the truth.
“The last three, four days, where’s England been? St George’s Park, a place that inspires players, a place where it’s a home, a place where you build a culture, and we don’t have anything like that.”
“We’ve had so many great footballers that have left the country because they’ve had to earn a living elsewhere to fulfil their dreams – Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka, Timmy Cahill, (Mark) Schwarzer, all these guys – and this generation is going to be the next.”
However, Arnold remained hopeful that football could be “reinvigorated”, particularly if Australia was awarded hosting rights to the 2034 FIFA World Cup ahead of the AFC’s preferred candidate, Saudi Arabia.
“It would help the sport enormously to have a World Cup in Australia,” he said.
“We showed (at this year Women’s World Cup) that we’re great hosts. There’s a lot of work to do, but I do think with the generation of kids coming through, we can reinvigorate the sport.”