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Unless they are willing to spare us the fits of pique over trivial matters, sports administrators should be put back in their boxes, writes Tom Sturrock.


Self-important reactions from the British FA and the AFL have, in the past week, shown that sporting bodies have broken compasses when it comes to what’s worth getting snippy about and what should be ignored. They’d be better served keeping their powder dry on issues that, in reality, no one gives a shit about.

Following the announcement that Roy Hodgson would manage the English football team at the European Championships, The Sun ran a playful headline, needling Hodgson about his ‘wabbit problem’ – that is, he pronounces his r-sounds as w-sounds.

“Bwing on the Euwos! (We’ll see you in Ukwaine against Fwance),” The Sun headline went. The FA felt compelled to ride to the rescue with an eye-rollingly po-faced statement.

“We made it clear that their front page is unacceptable to us,” the FA bristled, as though they are entitled to approve or veto what papers run on their front pages.

Locally, the AFL got its do-gooder knickers in a knot over the most manufactured ‘scandal’ in memory. You see, Lance Franklin, one of the league’s stars, is involved in a clothing company whose supposedly edgy YouTube ad features a young man smoking, spray-painting a wall and a one-second grab of an old tabloid with a page-three girl – with her rude bits pixellated, mind. But it was all too much for some, who insisted this anti-social misogyny had, gasp, 'damaged the brand', whatever that means.

Amazingly, James Tonkin, the AFL’s corporate affairs spokesman, bothered to respond, insisting gravely that, “the AFL in no way condones the imagery used in much of this clothing range” and that, “we consider it inappropriate and inconsistent with our respect and responsibility policy and we’ll be considering our options.”

What is this paternalistic nonsense? Sporting bodies should remember that they are not elected governments – they do not have the mandate to claim to be outraged on everyone else’s behalf or to instruct other stakeholders, over whom they have zero dominion, how to conduct their business. By all means, run your sporting competitions. But then shut up – you are not in charge.


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AFL and FA make fools of themselves with absurd hand-wringing
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