FFA rules out early return to football

Photo: Mathew F (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


A decision on the Australian football(soccer) season is due to be finalised today, as players vent their frustration over what they say is a lack of certainty about the game’s future.

The Football Federation of Australia has ruled out an early return to the competition, announcing a postponement of all remaining games in the 2019/20 A-league season.

The postponement is part of a series of measures introduced by the FFA in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Several A-League clubs have had to stand down staff, and Newcastle Jets captain Nigel Boogaard has told AAP that players were being kept in the dark.

“To let it drag on to this point is a little bit ridiculous,” he said.

Having announced the season would continue behind closed doors, the FFA then had its hand forced.

Increased social distancing measures and the introduction of state border restrictions within Australia made the continuation of football (soccer) impossible.

FFA CEO James Johnson stressed the decision had been made in the interest of not just the footballing community but the wider community at large.

“Each time we’ve made these decisions there’s been two points that have been at the centre of our decision making,” he said.

“The first point has always been the well-being of people, our community, players, in particular our fans, our staff, our officials – this has been at the forefront of our thinking.”

He said the sport also had a responsibility to the wider community.

“The second point, is our civic duty as a code, to be a responsible citizen and help the Australian community and support the efforts to slow the spread of the virus,” he said.

The A-league joins the majority of the world’s major footballing competitions, in cancelling matches indefinitely.

But confusion still reigns as to when and how football may come back.

Throughout Europe’s top leagues, debate centres around whether current seasons should be declared null and void, or if it should be completed when football returns.

Mr Johnson suggested that the inclination of the FFA would be to complete the current season.

“We’re optimistic and we should be I think in these difficult circumstances,” he said.

“It is a postponement – we want to ensure that the players mind frames are that the league will resume as soon as possible, but the reality is we don’t know how this virus is going to move.”

He described the circumstances for football (soccer) in Australia and internationally as unpredictable.

“There’s no certainty on how it’s going to move and I think our decision to postpone is certainly in line with other leagues around the world,” he said.