Association football in Australia

Sport overview
country = Australia
sport = Association football

imagesize = 260px
caption =
union = Football Federation Australia
nickname = Socceroos
first = 1880, Parramatta, New South Wales
registered = 389,000 (total)
60,000 (adult male)
6,000 (adult female)
323,000 (youth) [FIFA Big Count 2000]
clubs = 1,200 (12,000 teams) [FIFA Big Count 2000]
match = 95,103 - (2006) Australia vs Greece (friendly)
55,436 - (2007) Melbourne Victory vs Adelaide United (2006-07 A-League Grand Final)
league =
national1 = A-League
club1 = New South Wales Premier League
club2 = NBN State Football League
club3 = Brisbane Premier League
club4 = South Australian Super League
club5 = Southern Premier League, Northern Premier League
club6 = Victorian Premier League
club7 = Football West State League
club8 = ACT Premier League
club9 =

Association football, also known as football or soccer, is a popular recreational and professional sport in Australia. The sport has the highest level of participation in Australia of all football codes. The fully professional A-League domestic competition has been operating since 2005 and the national team competes in the Asian Football Confederation. The national governing body is Football Federation Australia (formerly Soccer Australia).


The first recorded club was Wanderers, founded by a school teacher named John Walter Fletcher at Parramatta in New South Wales in 1880.cite web|url=|title=Timeline of Australian Football|publisher=New South Wales Migration Heritage Centre, Powerhouse Museum|date=2006|accessdate=2006-12-04] The first game known to have occurred in Australia under FA rules took place the same year, when Wanderers played the Kings School rugby football team at Parramatta Common on 14 August. However, the oldest existing club is Balgownie Rangers, founded in 1883, which still competes in the Illawarra regional league. [cite web|url=|title=Balgownie Rangers Soccer Club - Club History|date=2006|accessdate=2006-12-04]

Early governing bodies

The early governing bodies of the sport in Australia had to distinguish themselves from Australian rules football and rugby football, rival sports which had become very popular in the various Australian colonies during the 1860s and 1870s. The first inter-colonial game was played between NSW and the neighbouring Colony of Victoria in 1883.

The first Football (soccer) association was founded in New South Wales by John Walter Fletcher in 1882, as the South British Football Association (some sources refer to it as the New South Wales English Football Association. In 1898 it became the NSW British Football Association.)

In 1884 both Queensland and Victoria formed their own associations, respectively the Anglo Queensland Football Association (later to become the British Football Association in 1889) and the Anglo-Australian Football Association. The Western Australian Soccer Football Association was formed in 1896; the South Australian British Football Association in 1902; and a Tasmanian association about 1900.

The first Australia-wide body was the Commonwealth Football Association, formed in 1912, although this folded two years later.

Effects of immigration

While native-born Australians overwhelmingly played and watched Australian rules football or either code of rugby football, association football was highly popular with the various British and Southern European immigrant communities, all of which expanded rapidly during the 1950s and 1960s: Croatian, Greek, Italian and Serbian and communities gave rise to most of the largest clubs. At the time, the game served as a bonding force within those ethnic minority communities, and as a point of identity amongst them and the wider Australian community. A similarly increasing number of British migrants also retained an interest in the sport.

Johnny Warren, who was a member of the national team at their first World Cup appearance, in 1974, entitled his memoir "Sheilas, Wogs, and Poofters", giving an indication of how Warren considered that the wider Australian community viewed "wogball" in the 1970s. [cite web|url=|title=Australian Football - Post 1974|publisher=New South Wales Migration Heritage Centre, Powerhouse Museum|date=2006|accessdate=2006-12-04]

League system

The league system in Australia since 1977 has involved a one divisional league controlled by the national body and many leagues run within each state below that with no promotion or relegation between the two.

National leagues

The National Soccer League (NSL) was established in 1977 and was the first national football competition in Australia, with teams in five states or territories. This league, and Soccer Australia, were disbanded in 2004 and replaced by the A-League and Football Federation Australia respectively.

The first season of the new league began in August 2005. The average attendance (including finals) for the inaugural season of 11,627 was significantly higher than the average of 4,119 for the NSL's final season. [cite news|url=|title=A-League Facts and Figures|publisher=Queensland Football|date=2006-02-08|accessdate=2006-12-05] .

tate governing bodies and leagues

The following state and territory federations are responsible for administering local league systems, which sit underneath the A-League:

*Football NSW
*Football Queensland
*Northern New South Wales Football
*Football Federation Victoria
*Football Federation Tasmania
*Football Federation of South Australia
*Football West
*Capital Football (ACT)
*Football Federation Northern Territory

Cup Competitions

There is currently no national FA Cup style knock out competition however each state, except Victoria and Queensland (who have regional cups), has its own cup competitions run by the state and territory federations. Some restrict the participants to only the top flight or semi pro clubs whilst others have more open entries via invitation or qualifying rounds.

National teams

Australia enters national teams into women's and men's competitions including in all under age competitions, as recognised by FIFA.

Men's national team

The Australian national football team is nicknamed the "Socceroos". In early 2005 with the re-launch of the game in Australia as "football", the FFA expected the name to fade away, and for the team to be referred to as "Australia" [cite news|url=|title=Socceroos' name to fade away] . Nevertheless, the name Socceroos was still used by other parts of the media, and by mid-2006 the name "Socceroos" was again being used on the official website, programs and merchandise. [cite web|url=|title=FFA Fixtures list]

On 16 November 2005, the Socceroos defeated Uruguay 4-2 in a penalty shootout to secure a place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, the first time Australia has been in the World Cup since 1974. The Prime Minister at the time John Howard, asked employers to turn a blind eye to workers turning up late for work the following day, highlighting the widespread interest in the match.Fact|date=May 2008

On 12 June 2006, Australia defeated Japan. Down 1-0 in the 84th minute, the Socceroos banded together for three goals in eight minutes, all by second-half subs; Tim Cahill (2 goals) and John Aloisi, giving them not only their first World Cup goals, but also their first World Cup win.

On 18 June 2006, Australia was defeated by Brazil. The final score was 2-0, although the half time the score had remained at 0-0. The loss was to some degree expected because the match was played against the reigning world champions. Following this match, on 22 June Australia drew with Croatia 2-2 in their final group match, and qualified for the knockout round of 16 for the first time in history.

On 27 June 2006, Australia was defeated by Italy. The matched ended 1-0 in favour of eventual champions Italy, and the result put an end to Australia's World Cup 2006 campaign.

The Japan and Italy games were the top rating television programs in their respective weeks, and the Croatia game was the second highest in its week, despite the matches being broadcast between 11 pm and 5 am. However, the games were still outrated by other sport-related progams broadcast during 2006. [ Philip Derriman, 2006, "Big men hold their ground despite cricket's mass appeal" ("Sydney Morning Herald", 2 December 2006) ] The second round game against Italy was tenth on OzTam's survey of the most watched Australian TV events for 2006. [ Nine Retains Its Title as Australia's Most-Watched TV Network]

Women's national football team

The Australian national women's football team are known as the "Matildas" and regularly qualify for the FIFA Women's World Cup and Olympic Games.The Matildas are widely acknowledged as one of the most improved teams currently in women's competition followed by their quarter-final showing at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup; and are currently ranked inside the top 20 nations in the world at 12, with 11th-ranked England 17 points ahead.

Football variants in Australia


Futsal activities in Australia, including the National Futsal Championships, are organised by a National Futsal Commission of Football Federation Australia.

The following Futsal State Federations are members of the National Futsal Commission:

* ACT Futsal Inc
* Soccer NSW Futsal
* QLD Futsal Association Inc
* South Australia Futsal Commission

"Note: Not to be confused with other forms of indoor football such as five-a-side football or indoor soccer."

Football in the media

Pay television is the predominant outlet for both domestic and international football in Australia. Some games can also can be heard on local radio stations. The anti-siphoning list which controls what must be kept on free to air television in Australia includes only the FA Cup games [cite web|url=$file/BroadServEventsNotice2004_22032005.pdf|title= Broadcasting Services (Events) Notice (No. 1) 2004] .

Following a A$120million, seven year deal deal between the FFA and Fox Sports, Fox Sports will have exclusive rights from 2007 to all Socceroos home internationals, all A-League and AFC Asian Cup fixtures, FIFA World Cup qualifiers through the AFC, and all AFC Champions League matches.cite news|url=|title=Historic deal to secure Football's future|date=2006-05-03]

Representing the most significant TV rights agreement for football in Australia, it is still relatively small compared to European football leagues, such as the English Premier League.

SBS shows live UEFA Champions League games and retains the Australian broadcast rights to the 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals. Pay Television stations (Fox Sports, ESPN and Setanta) also show English, Scottish, German, Dutch and Spanish leagues.

The AMFL is the Sydney based social football competition for media groups. [ AMFL Australian Media Football League]


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