Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Aussie Rules" and Rugbies worry about Soccer

Football Federation Australia's powerful Australian Rules and Rugby League and Union competitors were shocked by the ratings success of the Australia-Japan round of the World Cup. Shown late Monday night on the usually low-rating government multicultural network SBS, the Group F fixture was watched by 2.166 million across Australia's five metro markets.

In comparison, Rugby League's prime-time, Wednesday night State of Origin clash on the Nine Network attracted only 1.66 million viewers and the Sunday night live broadcast of the Rugby Union Test between Australia-England on Seven averaged less than 1.04 million across the country.

The Australian Football League denied it was concerned when a crowd of 95,000 attended FFA's pre-World Cup friendly between Australia-Greece at the Melbourne Cricket Ground - well above the 78,733 for the much anticipated heavy-weight, Melbourne-Collingwood derby at the same ground in the AFL's only game in town on Monday's Queen's Birthday holiday. But the FFA's television rating success stung the AFL. So too news that the DVD of the Australia-Uruguay qualifier has now outsold the AFL's 2005 Grand Final DVD (which features the historic win for the code's Sydney Swans club).

Not surprisingly it is now confirmed that AFL chief Andrew Demetriou has flown to Europe for five days, primarily to see Australia play Brazil in Munich on Sunday night.

FFA's chief executive John O'Neill, a former chief executive of the Australian Rugby Union, knows the fears rival codes have of soccer ever getting it right in Australia and says that time has finally come. "We [at the ARU] used to look at football, soccer, as a competitor and say one day they will get their act together and when they do we better be careful," he he told Paul Kent of the Courier Mail (Brisbane). "They may have had a participation base but there was no content and no success at national team level. Now we've got success at the national team level at the world's greatest event."

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