Socceroos training ground bust-up ahead of crucial FIFA World Cup 1994 play-off

Several Socceroos were involved a training ground bust-up ahead of Australia's crucial FIFA World Cup 1994 play-off second leg against Canada.

After a 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Edmonton, tensions between Socceroos teammates came to the fore during a training on the St George stadium carpark, with Frank Farina and Robbie Slater involved in a bust-up.

“We were playing a small sided game and it was pretty aggressive," former Socceroos captain Paul Wade explained to

"You’d wind each other up, and I think Robbie Slater wound Frank Farina up so much, that one of them threw the first punch.

“I had never seen better punches in my life other than in a boxing ring. Must have been a dozen punches.”

Slater explained to the Fox Football Podcast that a disagreement between himself and Paul Okon led to the incident.

Watch a live Premiere of the Socceroos v Canada in the FIFA World Cup 1994 play-off on Facebook and Youtube from 7:30pm AEST on Tuesday, May 12.

Slater said, “I had a go at Paulo, and probably said something inappropriate. Frankie (Farina) took exception to it. And I took exception to Frankie (saying something)."

“Frankie was a competitor as I was. The trouble with Frankie was when his eyes go, it’s all over.

“His eyes went. It’s like watching a dryer – they go round and round and I thought ‘here we go’.

“I walked towards him and we started throwing punches. I don’t think they were technically perfect. Before you knew it, everyone jumped in. There were more words and so on and we went back our own ways.”

Coach Eddie Thomson was not impressed with the bust-up, but did his part to ensure the squad moved past the incident.

“We got called into Thommo’s room before dinner," said Slater. 

"We were already sort of giggling about it, but Thommo (coach Eddie Thompson) wasn’t happy.

“We both apologised, shook hands and that was the end of it. Then everyone took the piss out of us at dinner.”

Frank Farina Robbie Slater
Frank Farina and Robbie Slater

Wade added: "We’re at dinner, and obviously everyone is quiet and a bit embarrassed. I don’t know who it was, but someone went 'ding ding', like a bell for the next punch up. It relieved all the pressure.”

Despite Thomson's call to keep the bust-up under wraps, a photo and story appeared in the media the following day.

“Eddie Thompson goes right, nobody says anything," said Wade. 

"Nobody says a word about this incident. We thought it’s probably better kept under wraps.

“The next morning, on the back-page of the Sydney Morning Herald - the biggest headline."

Despite the bust-up, which occurred several days before the second leg against Canada, the Socceroos squad was focused on crucial match to keep their FIFA World Cup dream alive.


'We were totally distracted': The surprise behind Schwarzer's Socceroos debut
Match Preview: Socceroos v Canada
'We'll beat them in Sydney': Socceroos coach confident of taking down Canada

Stay At Home: Football Fix View Now

How To Watch

Watch the Socceroos v Canada in the FIFA World Cup 1994 play-off on Facebook and Youtube from 7:30pm AEST on Tuesday, May 12.

Click here and tag your friends to make a watch party on Facebook and click “Get Notification” to receive a notification when the match goes live.

Join in the conversation on social media with Socceroos fans from around the world by posting your photos and videos while using the hashtag: #AUSvCAN

Click here to watch on Facebook.

Click here to watch on Youtube or watch in the player below from 7:30pm AEST!


Listen to the FULL interview on the FFA Podcast NOW! Subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play & Spotify.