Socceroos legend Mark Schwarzer slammed Aussies who ‘don’t want football to succeed’ while furious coach Graham Arnold slammed the government for spending nothing on sport
- The Aussies train on a suburban oval and there is no recovery centre
- It comes despite repeated World Cup heroics
- Schwarzer believes external forces are blocking funding
It’s been almost 20 years since Mark Schwarzer and the Socceroos made history by qualifying for the FIFA World Cup for only the second time in history, but not much has changed when it comes to funding for the sport.
The Socceroos were the toast of the nation that night in 2005 when Schwarzer was the hero in a 4-2 penalty shootout victory over Uruguay that propelled Australia to its first World Cup since 1974.
That Australian team would go on to defy history though by escaping the group stage only to lose to powerhouse Italy in a controversial finish in Germany.
Fast-forward to 2022 and the Socceroos are once again the nation’s pride, with thousands flocking to city squares to cheer on the national side as it rewrites the history books in Qatar.
But once all the celebrations were gone, the Socceroos were left underfunded and homeless by the federal government on both occasions.
Arnold and the Socceroos celebrate the victory over Denmark that earned them passage to the knockout stages of the World Cup
Thousands of Socceroos fans have flocked to city centers across the country to cheer on the team in Qatar – but getting financial backing from the government is a very different story
Despite millions pumped into rival Australian football codes, the Socceroos still have to pay $1500 per session to use the run-down Leichardt Oval for training and they have no recovery centre.
Coach Graham Arnold is on the warpath trying to get the necessary funding for a dedicated home for the national side, but Schwarzer believes there are external forces at play.
‘Unfortunately, there are so many people in Australia who really don’t want football to succeed, they fear our beautiful game,’ he posted on Twitter, including an interview Arnold gave on Sunday.
In that interview on ABC’s Offsiders, the national coach said he supported other football codes such as the NRL and AFL getting government money, but wanted to see the Socceroos get their fair share.
‘I’m really happy for the AFL to get what they’re getting and rugby league and the NRL in NSW to get what they’re getting,’ he said.
‘But we can’t get anything. At the end of the day we don’t get any money from the government, we don’t have a home for the Socceroos.’
The Socceroos are pictured during a training session at the run-down Leichhardt Oval in 2022 ahead of a crucial World Cup qualifier. Other national teams have innovative set-ups
(Left to right) Schwarzer, John Aloisi and Tim Cahill celebrate qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the second time Australia have reached the finals
Arnold spoke of the humiliating conditions awaiting top talent to return home to play for their country, including hauling ice back to their hotel rooms just to recover.
‘I bring back players from Europe who are top players and they have the best training facilities in Europe,’ he said.
‘They came back, we stayed in a hotel obviously, we didn’t have a recovery centre, the guys had to get ice to put in their own bathtubs in their rooms to recover from the flight and get ready for the games.
‘So it’s something that I believe the only way forward for Australian football is we need a football home that we can build pathways for kids.
‘We’re only looking at the elite level of the Socceroos and the Matildas but the pathway is the most important thing and unless we can sort out the ingredients in the cake and get that right, well then the game will suffer.’
Fans quickly backed Schwarzer and Arnold and called for greater funding for football in Australia.
‘For a sporting nation, that’s not particularly impressive. Look at smaller countries like Croatia or Belgium,’ one posted.
‘Most popular grassroots participation sport in the country today which is amazing and should be celebrated/funded accordingly,’ posted another.
‘What a great potential for football in Australia, a perfect platform for the sport,’ added another.
News/Image Sources: Daily Mail