FFA CEO David Gallop says Kevin Sheedy’s comments about Wanderers FC having links with the immigration department were a ‘clumsy own goal’.
FFA CEO David Gallop says Kevin Sheedy-s comments about Western Sydney Wanderers having links with the immigration department were a ‘clumsy own goal-.
Sheedy sparked controversy on the weekend when he suggested the GWS Giants could not match the Wanderers- appeal in Western Sydney because his club lacked “the recruiting officer called the immigration department recruiting fans”.
The AFL coach has since come under severe criticism from the football media but Gallop said that while his comments were ill-judged they illustrated how far football has come.
“Kevin-s comments were clumsy. No doubt he didn-t mean to offend immigrant or non-immigrant football fans, but it-s an own goal. I-m sure AFL types would be tearing their hair out today.
“Everyone knows that football represents Australia in all its diversity. WSW represent western Sydney in all its diversity. That-s why we are on the move compared to the other codes.
“Football-s time has arrived. The game has a new self-confidence. One rash comment by a coach in another sport won-t change that.”
SBS pundit Craig Foster went on the attack in his response to Sheedy-s comments, calling them “a disgrace” and “a throwback to the dark old days of anti-immigration”, while Wanderers executive chairman Lyall Gorman refused to pulled into a war of words, telling the Sydney Morning Herald that successful sporting clubs of all codes was good for Western Sydney.
Sheedy defended his comments on Monday, saying his intention was only to point to how much work AFL will have to do to secure its future in the region.
"I wouldn't know why there's backlash," Sheedy told reporters.
"I think most people would know that the program I've always set myself is to help people build Australia, always make people inclusive of being part of this great country when they come here.
It's a throwaway line to make sure that everybody understands that is why soccer can get such a quick crowd,'' Sheedy said in Sydney.
"And of course, quite amazingly why it's taken so long to put another (A-League) team in the west, because they've got an enormous fan base there.
"When people ring you up about only 5,800 fans coming to watch a game and then you discuss it with the Wanderers' crowds, when you say the Immigration Department is one of the best recruiting agencies for soccer, I didn't mean anything untoward by that, but it's a fact.