The Moot Point

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What media bias?
Joe Russo

I cringe when reading articles, such as the recent Sun Herald post by Craig Foster, that feel the need to bring into question the authenticity of the other football codes in Australia.

Foster’s love for our game knows no bounds; he is passionate and a true advocate for the code, and this is truly commendable.

However, in Australia there has been, is and always will be, room for four codes of football. Whether or not we hold the rights to the name “football”, in Australia the reality of football is broad. It refers to all four in some way or another.

The crux of Foster’s article is that there appears to be some bias in reporting incidents that occur in a football stadium, as opposed to when they occur in other sports. In particular, his gripe is with the reporting in some Melbourne newspapers of the incidents that occurred at the recent Socceroos v Serbia encounter at Docklands Stadium.

“A liberal dose of bigotry, barely disguised racism and rampant myopia are absolutely necessary ingredients…” Foster writes.

In this article, he tries to get up close and personal with readers and infect them with his passions.

“If anyone, at any millions of football matches, at any time, anywhere in the world, steps out of line….” he continues.

Football, yes in many ways, is the lingua franca of the world. It brings us together across the world, but this particular incident occurred in Melbourne and not in some far-fetched part of the globe.

Worse still, it occurred when our national team was on show thus exacerbating the problem. To cry foul when the coverage of the game is not so favourable is one thing, but to go on about some perceived bias is deplorable.

The premise is that journalists, writing on behalf of the other football codes, are so threatened by the existence of the world game that they will resort to anything to bring it down.

Australia is a pluralistic society where the love of one sport – perhaps football – doesn’t mean that there cannot be appreciation of other sports. They are not mutually exclusive and nor should they be.

Dare I say it, but most football fans would enjoy to some extent at least one other code of football.

I love Foster’s passion for the game, but I am truly embarrassed – as a person who appreciates all football codes – when we are shedding crocodile tears over media bias.

Football, our football, does not have a chip on its shoulder and nor should it. It does not have an inferiority complex. When incidents occur and are reported as being disgraceful, then perhaps we should accept that possibly they are.

The other football codes are not shaking in their boots and looking over their shoulders at us because we are some sort of perceived threat.

There is room for all and our game could even grow at no expense to any other football code. Other football codes are certainly not endangered species and rabid responses to media coverage, claiming bias and bigotry, are simply cringe worthy.

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