'Highway robbery': Schwarzer grills Sports Minister & FA boss on price of football after Socceroos disaster
The Socceroos legend has taken the authorities to task over the high price of football in Australia.
The Socceroos have already switched focus after rapidly digesting the harsh lessons from their schooling by France, midfielder Jackson Irvine has said.
After being hammered 4-1 by France in their World Cup opener, the Australians meet Tunisia on Saturday.
Another loss will consign the Socceroos to yet another exit at the group stage – the fifth time in six appearance at the cup finals.
Irvine says the French belting was a valuable lesson for the Socceroos, but not one to overly dwell on.
“The mentality has to be to move on quickly,” Irvine told reporters on Wednesday. “Obviously where we can improve, what we did well, and what we can take forward.
“But generally speaking the mentality has already switched into focusing on the next game and using last night as a platform to build for Saturday rather than over-thinking how that (France) game went.”
Key midfield cog Ajdin Hrustic is likely to return for the clash against Tunisia, who drew with Denmark in their cup opener.
Hrustic hasn’t played since October 3 because of an ankle injury but coach Graham Arnold was ready to pitch the attacking midfielder into action against France from the bench.
But with Australia’s hopes of an upset win dashed, Hrustic remained on the sidelines. “He’s a quality player, obviously we want him out on the pitch as soon as he is available,” Irvine said. “I am sure he will have a big role to play in these next couple of games.”
The Australian expect Tunisia, renowned for defensive intensity, to present an entirely different challenge than France’s attacking flair.
“A very different opposition, the game will flow in a very different way,” Irvine said. “Against a team that can play so compact…you are going to have to find different ways to create chances.
“We have got the quality of players who can play in those areas out wide or in between lines and create chances to score goals.
“We will look at where are the best areas to hurt them but not much changes within the framework that we’re always trying to do.”
Australia winger Martin Boyle has undergone surgery on his injured knee and will miss the rest of the Scottish Premiership season.
Boyle was ruled out of the World Cup in a devastating blow for Graham Arnold’s Socceroos, who were hammered 4-1 by France in their tournament opener.
The influential 29-year-old travelled to Qatar in a desperate bid to feature for Australia despite suffering suspected meniscus damage during Hibernian’s league meeting with St Mirren in late October.
Further scans revealed a pre-existing ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, which required surgery and will sideline Boyle for months.
“It has been a tough few weeks for Martin and we are all gutted for him,” Hibernian manager Lee Johnson said.
“Now, it’s up to us to rally around him and make sure we support him on every level throughout his recovery.
“Short-term, it is a big blow for us, but we will do everything we can to support Martin to make sure he comes back fitter, stronger and a better player than before.”
Boyle was unable to train with the Socceroos squad before being ruled out of the World Cup just days before the France clash. He was replaced in the squad by Melbourne City winger Marco Tilio.
“That is probably the hardest thing, the devastating thing, he has been so important … and has probably been one of our best players right through the whole campaign,” Arnold told reporters on Sunday.
“It’s devastating news for Martin and the family.”
Australia has stopped short of declaring unequivocal support for FIFA’s embattled president Gianni Infantino as European nations dramatically escalated protests at the World Cup.
Football Australia chief executive officer James Johnson said that his side would not follow the German and Danish teams in protesting the host nation, or make a decision on whether they would vote for Infantino when he is up for re-election.
“We are not in a position right now to decide that, we don’t have to,” Johnson told reporters. “At this stage I understand that it is only President Infantino that will run. “He will be running unelected so I am not sure that there will be a decision to make.
“But in the event there was a contested election, we would ask the candidates what their vision is.”
The Socceroos released a video message last month demanding Qatar decriminalise same-sex relations and also describing recent workplace reforms in the Middle Eastern nation as inconsistent.
Governments of some nations have boycotted the cup but Australia’s sports minister Anika Wells has held talks with the Qatari government since last Sunday.
“We believe in open dialogue and we believe that we need to show up to have it,” Wells told reporters on Wednesday.
“So I showed up to take Australia’s seat at the table again and to have that open dialogue.
“There was no need for me to make clear to the Qatari government the Socceroos’ video, obviously that had been broadcast around the world.”
Wells said Qatar’s government wanted wider acknowledgement of recent reforms progress in the strict Islamic nation.
“On behalf of the Australian government I made clear…we acknowledge the progress that has been made,” she said.
“There is more to be done but I really feel like we had a constructive, frank discussion about that…I was quite surprised by how humble, honest and constructive they were about it.
“I conveyed to them what has been made very clear to me in Australia, which is that Australians want to see more done.
“…I put that in the broader context of that is the case for all of us, we could all do more to advance human rights.
“And that this global scrutiny will turn itself upon us in July next year (when) we host the Women’s World Cup.”
Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine, who featured in the Socceroos video, hoped hosting the Women’s World Cup would prompt scrutiny on his nation’s humans rights.
“People talk about the hypocrisy of these issues (in Qatar) but not talking about ones that happen at home,” Irvine told reporters.
“I hope that’s something we continue to explore in future as part of our growth as a team and as individuals. That is something to look at moving forward.”