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MELBOURNE: A top A-League club official says Australian football must boost its ties with Asia, involving itself more in the game’s politics, or continue the risk of being downgraded by its confederation.
Melbourne Victory chairman Anthony Di Pietro said paying lip service to being part of Asia was pointless as he joined criticism of the nation being stripped of a second guaranteed spot in next year’s AFC Champions League.
The Asian Football Confederation decision means Perth Glory, which was due to take the third spot in next week’s ACL draw, will not be playing. Chairman Tony Sage said the move could cost the club up to Aus$80,000 ($83,400) in investments and damage its bid to lure David Beckham to Perth.
Di Pietro said Football Federation Australia had been caught on the hop.
“I don’t think we should accept this lying down. The FFA (Football Federation Australia) will regroup and look at what they can do, but from our perspective it’s a very disappointing decision,” he told The Age newspaper.
Di Pietro added that he believed the Asian powerbrokers changed the criteria without informing the Australians. “What we have to do in this country is understand the Asian Confederation and get more involved with it,” he said.
“We need to get on committees, have interaction, get more involved with it.”
The AFC decided last week that Australia did not score sufficiently on benchmarks required to give a nation multiple guaranteed entries. Instead, it cut the allocation of the 10-team A-League from two plus a qualifying tie spot to one plus a qualifying tie berth. Other countries get up to four representatives. REUTERS