The Border Watch : January 17th 2014
8 OPINION EDITORIAL ENDURING this week’s heatwave has been a struggle for everybody, but thankfully we have not faced bushfi re conditions in the Lower South East so far. However, today marks the fi rst day of “extreme” fi re danger weather after “severe” conditions earlier this week. The Country Fire Service is desperate to ensure everybody gets the message so the region can remain free of tragedy. Sadly, the onset of hot weather also brings the danger of bushfi res, known all too well across Australia, including in the South East. Agricultural machinery is often to blame for fi res starting. It is hard enough working through the heat, so take a break and stay out of the paddocks in the hot weather to not only protect your own safety, but the entire community’s. Temperatures of 40 degrees and higher have been recorded on the Limestone Coast this week, with Mount Gambier facing its hottest day in history yesterday. Today is expected to involve worse fi re conditions, with grass baked by days of heat and winds picking up while changing direction. The Country Fire Service has been pushed to the brink right across the state as 22 fi res continued to burn at press time yesterday. At least 150 fi refi ghters have been called from all over the region to help fi ght a blaze at Ngarkat Conservation Park, a 270,000 hectare area north of Keith. The CFS is being stretched to the limit, with volunteers working around the clock to help contain the blazes. Many of the men and women working in these extreme conditions are protecting their own community, while others are far away from their families to help others in need. Think of this as you go about your business or leisure today. Being a volunteer fi refi ghter can be rewarding, but there is no doubt how hard it would be on the frontline. Without them, we would be in strife. VISIT US ONLINE borderwatch.com.au COMMENT Soccer thugs have done enormous damage to the sport FROM THE FRONT PORCH F GGR G FR GR GREENWOOD GRAHAM IT was not that long ago when commentators were suggesting the next “big thing” in Australian sport would be soccer. After all, it is the world game, and the fact it is played in almost every country around the world lends credible weight to that theory. SCOTT GROUP OF COMPANIES 538600 8 - The Border Watch, Friday, January 17, 2014 RALPH LASLETT OB Flat I will be glad to see the back of it. It will be easier on the animals on my farm as I am looking to sell some at the market next week, so I hope it will be cooler. MAC WALLACE Mount Gambier I cannot wait. I will fi nally be able to get some work done on my property without being cooked next week. FELIX SCHUSTER Germany Yeah it has been incredibly hot, so I have stayed in the library. It is really cool in there, but I am looking to get outside again when the temperature drops next week. But for it to be a serious force in Australia, soccer needed a big cleanout and that happened about 15 years ago when the ethnic names of clubs disappeared. This cultural cleansing was reportedly supposed to bring the game into the 21st century and by clearing out the violent minority element that was associated with soccer of that era, it would become a more family-orientated sport. It worked at fi rst and the tribal thuggery that had been associated with soccer clubs around the world was kept under control. The appeal of soccer during the early part of 2000 gathered momentum and after Australia’s success at the World Cup there were plenty of theories suggesting soccer would soon overtake AFL as the premium sport in Australia. However, it failed to make a dent on the grip AFL has in this country and soccer was forced to move to summer, where its offi cials believed it could challenge cricket. Many suggested, me included, that Channel Nine would be better off securing STREET SWEEPER Will you be glad to see this week’s heatwave end? soccer’s television rights rather than trying to take the AFL from Channel Seven. After its initial move to summer, soccer was on a roll and nothing appeared likely to stop its move from a second-rate, minor national sport into the big league, putting it alongside the AFL, NRL, netball and cricket. With Australia’s Test side experiencing some low moments in the past few years, soccer did improve its popularity with increased attendances and a new television deal with Fox Sports. At the start of this season, soccer chiefs were bragging it would overtake cricket as the number one summer sport and from there would have the AFL fi rmly in its sights. Two things happened in the past few months which derailed soccer in a major way. Firstly, Cricket Australia was smart enough to sell television rights for the Big Bash and programmed the series through the summer holiday period, putting it head-to-head with soccer. Not only did the Big Bash match soccer’s A-League attendances, but in terms of the television audience, it slaughtered its opponent. In Big Bash’s debut on Channel Ten, 1.1m watched the opening match while only 89,000 watched soccer. On new year’s night 56,000 watched soccer, but cricket attracted 697,000 viewers. In addition, on one day over the weekend of the fi fth test 1.55 million viewers watched cricket, Big Bash attracted 681,000 and tennis’ Brisbane International 260,000, leaving soccer languishing at the rear with only 83,000 viewers. But the most serious thing that happened and one which will haunt soccer for some time, was the violence by soccer thugs rioting in Melbourne streets over the same weekend. The footage of Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne Victory supporters rioting in the central business district with metal poles follows last year’s effort when fans set fi re to 170 seats at Etihad Stadium. Commentators are saying soccer is doomed to remain a second-tier sport in Australia unless administrators take serious steps to stamp out the anti-social supporters. What was most disappointing in this ugly episode was, at fi rst, soccer offi cials were in denial, accusing the media of a beat-up. For goodness sake, what other fans go to support their club armed with face masks, loud hailers, marine fl ares and bottles which were hurled at each other and police? The marine fl ares are very dangerous and produce heat so intense they can “burn to the bone”. These hooligans were armed and ready for a fi ght. It is not the Australian way and soccer must eradicate these thugs from the game. While they are a minority, unless soccer chiefs maintain their strong stand the sport will continue to wallow in the depths of second-tier status. Time will tell whether the violence has frightened off major free-to-air television networks from televising the sport in the future.
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