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A Firm “No” to Sports Diplomacy at Shepparton, Victoria

By Denis Bright

The federal LNP refused visas to U-19 Teams from the DPR Korea to participate in qualifying events in Shepparton, Victoria. The transfer of these events to overseas venues was a disappointment to all involved in the development of Shepparton Sports City.

The foregone events received financial support from all levels of government and sporting organizations themselves.

The Victorian Minister for Sport enthusiastically endorsed the events in Shepparton before Julie Bishop made her unfortunate decision.

“The Andrew’s Labor Government has helped Shepparton secure the right to host qualifying matches for the 2018 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U-19 Championship later this year, featuring our Young Socceroos.

Minister for Sport John Eren joined Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp and Young Socceroos Head Coach Ufuk Talay at the Greater Shepparton Community Football Complex today to announce the major sporting coup … The Labor Government secured the international tournament for Shepparton thanks to funding from the Regional Events Fund and Significant Sporting Events Program.

The $20 million Regional Events Fund is helping rural and regional communities like Shepparton stage the events that attract visitors in their thousands.”

The Australian Government’s visa decision was not given much media coverage compared with the saturation coverage offered in the mainstream media.

The significance of the intrusion of politics into sport was also marginalized by a 4-1 victory of the Socceroos over the DPR Korea in Hanoi on 7 November 2017.

The Young Matildas U-19 team lost to DPR Korea by 3 goals to Zero in a semi-final event in Nanjing, China.

As Indonesia remains a non-aligned country, the Socceroos will be welcome to the 2018 AFC U19 Championships in Indonesia between 18 October and 4 November 2018. Football Online notes that the qualified teams for next year’s events are Indonesia (hosts), United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Korea Republic, China PR, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, Iraq, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, DPR Korea.

Fortunately, the federal LNP will have no say on sporting protocols in Indonesia unless that country is the victim of another sudden right-wing military coup as in 1965 which brought General Suharto to power.

Denis Bright is a registered teacher and a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has recent postgraduate qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is interested in promoting discussion to advance pragmatic public policies that are compatible with contemporary globalization.



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  1. Andrew Smith

    Don’t ever under estimate the paranoia of the AFL corporate which became joined at the hip with John Howard’s Australia; ‘sokkah’ is ‘unAustralian’.

    If you follow football, i.e. the only international performers truly representing Australia’s diversity, there is continual white anting by ageing AFL media south of the ‘Barassi line. This includes occupying media space by promotion of other codes, colonising stadia, ignoring success, dog whistling supporters etc.; quite puerile.

  2. Stella

    Thanks Denis for your article. Let’s keep politics out of sport.

  3. diannaart

    I agree Stella, well said.

  4. Jack Russell

    Is it possible to keep politics out of sport when it’s been commoditised and monetised for decades?

  5. Lalnama

    It is a sad day when governments interfer in sports as has been proven on so many occasions in the past.
    Sport actually unites people & this is what our world so desperately needs
    Thank you for bringing this situation to our attention

  6. Laura

    The failure to grant visas to this team seems to be in sync with this Commonwealth government’s demonizing of the Sudanese community in Melbourne.

  7. Tessa

    Hmmm I didn’t notice this via ban on the U 19 team on the news. How did is slip below the eyewitness news radar?

  8. Jim

    Unfortunate for a sporting event to be affected by the politics of embargoes and sanctions. There is nothing to gain from doing this. Sporting events bring people together. The event would have been good for Sheparton.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Politics has always been involved in sport. Look at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 or the boycott of the Moscow and Montreal Olympics or the murders at the the Munich Olympics. Look at the sanctions against South African sporting teams during apartheid (not that that stopped Tony Abbott who defied the sanctions to go on a rugby tour to SA). Look at how politicians shamelessly try to promote themselves at sporting events. Malcolm Turnbull joining the commentators at the cricket a couple of days ago was cringeworthy.

    Having said that, I do not agree with this ban. The more people from North Korea can experience of the outside world, the more they can learn.

  10. Milo

    Thanks for the article Denis!

    That’s a real shame that the tournament has had to be relocated. This will impact the players, football Australia and the local towns (particularly from an economic developement perspective).

    Who knows how much it took to get the tournment in the first place and the costs involved.

    I hope the tournament is a sucess regardless.

  11. Patrick for Non-Alignment

    Why does a proud ANZAC nation like Australia need to follow bad advice from the USA about who should play soccer at the McEwan Oval in Shepparton?

    Julie Bishop is trying to appease Trump but this administration will take more and more of our sovereignty.

    US troops being transitted through Darwin are like a foreign legion that is ready to keep adjacent Asian and Pacific Countries in order. No wonder Indonesia has invited the Russian Air Force to join its military exercises in Biak just recently as proof of its even-handed approach to the antics of President Trump.

    The Irish Model of Neutrality is the best foreign policy for Australia.Why shouldn’t Australians discuss their foreign policy options without all this Queen Victoria style hush-hush from the days of the Irish Struggles.?

    “Well I am not prepared to discuss Intelligence Matters” says our Julie Bishop (as the broad parameters of our foreign policies are determined in Washington).

  12. Andrew J Smith

    Don’t think it’s just about sanctions and the US. There were some very well informed comments on football forum 3-6 months ago pointing the finger at Julie Bishop and the AFL; she was on the West Coast Eagles board some years ago. One only has to recall the anti football ranting in the Melbourne Herald Sun (owned by NewsCorp, + IPA and AFL) when the World Cup bid by FFA was mooted few years ago; paranoid.

  13. Chris

    Sporting groups should have spoken out against this via ban. Since when are Under 19 soccer players a threat to a brave nation?

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