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Will Domino99 Pkv Australia Finally Embrace Asian Football?

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One of the highlights of the Asian football scene in 2013 was the AFC Champions League Final between FC Seoul and Guangzhou Evergrande. Both games (it was played over two legs) were played in front of 50,000+ crowds, and both games were a fantastic advertisement for Asian football. Neither game was shown on FOX SPORTS. This was the first time they haven’t broadcast the AFC Champions League Final.

 

After seven years as a member of the Domino99 Pkv the coverage should be increasing, not decreasing and yet that is exactly what is happening.

 

There was, not that I saw, any word at all on any FOX SPORTS production about the AFC Champions League Final. Not a word. And this is despite them owning the rights to the competition.

 

SBS on the other hand, on their weekly show The World Game, dedicated a segment of the hour long program to the AFC Champions League Final and had their reporter, and arguably the best Asian football journalist going around, Scott McIntyre, in Guangzhou for the second leg.

 

Is it any wonder fans of the A-League teams competing in the ACL are left saying “who?” when the draw is held when there is little coverage of the tournament?

 

This isn’t a problem exclusive to Australia, it’s the same right around Asia, but it’s one we should look to fix. This year it is quite possible that there will be three A-League teams in the ACL. That means that, for the group stage at least, there will be three games each match day. That’s good, that’s already a marked increase on last year. But what happens if/when the Australian teams are eliminated? Does it again disappear from our screens?

 

This is a tournament that will involve a lot of players who will take part in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup here in Australia. Again, it is in FOX SPORTS commercial interest for that tournament that be a success and attract as many eyeballs as possible. If fans know and are familiar with the players involved then there is more of a chance of that happening. It would be fantastic to see games involving no A-League teams broadcast. For example, I’m sure fans of Central Coast, Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory would be interested in how the other teams in their group are playing, especially when the results of those games could determine whether they progress to the Round of 16.

 

Why not show the other game from each of those groups each match day? FOX SPORTS will point to poor ratings as an excuse, but unless there is an investment in Asian football to create more interest ratings will always be poor, especially when coverage is so sporadic. And when you show the first leg of the Mexican league final at midday on a Friday afternoon, does the ratings argument really stack up?

 

And then there are the little things.

 

Pronunciation of names is a cultural thing that will take time for all Australians to learn. But commentators should make every effort to get the pronunciation correct. Some do, while some just butcher it. Some of the efforts during last year’s ACL were just embarrassing. It may have been simple human error, a typo that we all do hundreds of time each year, but in an official press release it shouldn’t happen. I’m referring to Adelaide United’s mistake last week, announcing that Antony Golec was off to Chinese side Liaoning Whomin. It is, of course, Liaoning Whowin.

 

The old ‘copy & paste’ caught a few people out, who were probably none the wiser, when a few journalists and official twitter accounts repeated the same mistake. Then there was the doozy from the FFA, who expanded their official website last year to become an “independent” news website, rather than just a corporate site.

 

It included all new sections dedicated to news around the globe, but tellingly when it was launched there was no section for Asia. Europe, English Premier League, all the usual sections were there, but no section for Asia. It was quickly rectified, but it was an oversight that spoke volumes. Again, little things, but it speaks to a greater lack of understanding, knowledge and respect for the game in Asia.

 

In the world we live in it is the media who set the agenda. What they show is what we discuss. What they discuss quickly become the latest talking points. It is, therefore, the media, and that includes everyone in the broader Australian football media, who need to lead the way in promoting Asian football and encouraging our learning and understanding of this vast continent. That doesn’t mean being cheerleaders, but it means making a concerted effort to dedicate time and space to reporting on Asian football, the good and the bad.

 

With the 2015 AFC Asian Cup on our doorstep there has never been a better time for that process to start, and it is my greatest wish that 2014 will be the year we in Australia starts that process of embracing the wonderful world of Asian football.

 

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