Making sweeping generalisations about anyone’s ability to do a job based on their nationality is just plain ignorance.
The recent ugly spat between Craig Foster and Robbie Slater has once again drawn attention to the most taboo subject in Australian football – that is, the ethnic stereotypes that dog the game.
Let me start by saying that I-m not here to provide a critique of Craig or Robbie-s position. Rather, I-d just like to give my own opinion on the issue.
I-ve had good and bad coaches of many nationalities.
Making sweeping generalizations about anyone-s ability to do a job based on their nationality is just plain ignorance – simple as that.
Coaches are good coaches if they can improve players and generate positive results.
Sir Alex Ferguson is probably the most successful manager in modern-day club football. He-s Scottish. Should we all employ Scottish coaches?
The highest ranked team in the world is Spain. Why not employ a swathe of La Liga influenced coaches then?
A recent poll listed the following coaches as the leading club coaches currently in club football:
Pep Guardiola, Andre Villas-Boas, Jose Mourinho, Sir Alex Ferguson, Jurgen Klopp, Roberto Mancini, Oscar Tabarez, Massimiliano Allegri, Rudi Garcia and Luciano Spalletti.
Sure, any such list is subjective, but this list is as good as any. Any trends to identify? Certainly, the Latin countries are very well represented. For what its worth, the Brits make one appearance with no Dutch sneaking in.
So far, the A-League has seen a German (Pierre Littbarski), a Scottish-born Australian (Ernie Merrick), a Czech (Vitezslav Lavicka) and a domestic born Australian (Gary van Egmond) win the title.
What does that tell us? Nothing, other than that nationality is irrelevant; it is the ability to get the best out of their playing group which counts.
England, incidentally, is ranked 4th in the world. Apparently, this is not good enough for some. Perhaps the gap between the 3rd ranked Dutch and the English is bigger than the famous Channel which divides England from continental Europe!
Moving onto players, imagine if George Weah (Liberia), Ryan Giggs (Wales) or George Best (Northern Ireland) were not allowed to play because they were from what were deemed by the football cognoscenti as being inferior football nations?
What technical coaching do the fabulously talented South Americans from the favelas or barefoot African boys receive? Nil. Zero. Nada, Zilch.
Australia-s migrant history is littered with different nationalities and if there is one lesson we-ve learned through time, surely it-s that we can all learn something with each other.
Our top domestic coaches all have different ethnic backgrounds. Aurelio Vidmar is of Italian/Slovenian extraction. Gary van Egmond has Dutch blood. Ange Postecoglou was born in Greece. The current AIS caretaker coach, Phil Stubbins, grew up in England.
Seriously, who cares?
Football is the world game; we all own it – not the Brazilians, Dutch, Italians, British, or anyone else.
I-d like to finish by quoting Ben Buckley-s column on this website, in which he said:
“Football’s greatest strength in the Australian context is its inclusive nature. We welcome people from all walks of life and all places on the globe, on and off the field.”
Perhaps its time that football in Australia started to practice what it preaches.