Aussie Whingers Told To Shut TF Up, Again

Whinge, whinge, bleat, bleat, woe is me.

Ausfailure is embarrassing itself on the world stage and showing the world what a bunch of whingers they really are deep down where it counts, as rugby league fans knew all along.

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DESPITE sharing the frustration of the players after watching the Socceroos reduced to 10 men in each of their World Cup games, Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy does not want Australia to be seen as a nation of whingers.

Mindful that he’s heading into the home straight of the 2022 World Cup bid, Lowy admits perceptions are crucial and the behaviour of the national team is a decisive factor. While the players, almost to a man, have complained about harsh justice in the wake of the red cards issued to Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell, Lowy has reminded them of their obligations.

”Of course I was very disappointed we were left to 10 men again, but this is the referee’s task and we never complain about that,” he said. ”We’ve got to accept those decisions, whingeing is not a trait we should follow. I don’t believe we are whingers, but it’s important we just get on with it. In the end, those are the cards you are dealt with.”

Others are less polite about Ausfailure’s belly aching.

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FIRST, the comeback kid Harry Kewell accused a referee of killing his World Cup. Then, captain Lucas Neill claimed the ”big decisions are not going Australia’s way”. And, now, top goal-scorer Tim Cahill has turned up for training and informed the world that ”for us as a nation … we have never been given a fair go”.

Suddenly, Australia has become The Unlucky Country. At least, that seems to be the opinion of several of the Socceroos, after having two players, the aforementioned Cahill and Kewell, sent off in the first two matches. It is a view shared by many of the thousands of supporters who have travelled to South Africa, and by millions who are following them from home.

After Saturday’s match in Rustenburg, where 10-man Australia drew 1-1 with Ghana to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the round of 16, fans were seriously discussing a possible ”Italian conspiracy”. It involved ”killer referee” Roberto Rosetti and Fabio Grosso, whose last-minute dive helped knock the Socceroos out of the World Cup four years ago.

In fact, while there may not have been any intent involved in the offences of either Cahill (late tackle) or Kewell (hand ball), the officials reacted promptly, appropriately and in accordance with the rules. But, ultimately, that may not be the point.

More important, is how players, coaches and supporters handle what Shakespeare – William, the playwright, not Craig, the West Bromwich Albion play-maker – might have called the slings and arrows of outrageous refereeing decisions.

Whingeing is not a good sound, worse even than buzzing vuvuzelas. Whingeing, especially accompanied by tears not of contrition or regret but self-pity, is not a good look for players representing a nation spending $50 million to secure the 2022 World Cup, to persuade more than 200 countries to ”come play”.

One can sympathise with Kewell, whose long-awaited comeback was curtailed after only 24 minutes by a mishap in which he had, quite literally, put his body on the line. As he said, he could hardly be expected to chop his arm off.

Less forgivable was Cahill, whose tackle was ill-advised and ill-timed. It may not have been intended. It was reckless and unruly. Nor was it an isolated incident. Even fans with selective memories must recall his scything tackle in the Socceroos’ farewell match against New Zealand.

He escaped a sending-off then. He was lucky. He was given more than a fair go.

Perhaps part of the problem is, according to a character in D.H. Lawrence’s book Kangaroo, that ”Australians play their sport as if their lives depend on it” – spirited, physical, fair-minded, averse to cheating, conning, diving, dissembling.

But as leading sports historian Dr Richard Cashman explained several years ago, originally in the context of cricket, Australian ”fair play” has increasingly been replaced by hard play, perhaps under the pressures created by ever-increasing financial rewards. Sadly, the two styles of play are not always compatible.

Australians who play hard should accept the consequences. And however they play they must accept that refereeing mistakes, rare at this World Cup so far, will be made.

Meanwhile, the Lucky Country should, as Harry eventually suggested, ”take it on the chin”.

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