Previous
CSKA Moscow
Bayern Munich
4:00 PM GMT
Game Details
Manchester City
AS Roma
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Apoel Nicosia
Ajax Amsterdam
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Paris Saint-Germain
Barcelona
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Schalke 04
NK Maribor
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Sporting Lisbon
Chelsea
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
BATE Borisov
Athletic Bilbao
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Shakhtar Donetsk
FC Porto
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Brighton & Hove Albion
Cardiff City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Derby County
AFC Bournemouth
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Middlesbrough
Blackpool
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Millwall
Birmingham City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Norwich City
Charlton Athletic
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Rotherham United
Blackburn Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Sheffield Wednesday
Ipswich Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Watford
Brentford
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Wigan Athletic
Nottingham Forest
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Crewe Alexandra
Notts County
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
AFC Telford United
Chester City
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Alfreton Town
Halifax
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Altrincham
Macclesfield Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Braintree Town
Barnet
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Dover
Aldershot Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Eastleigh
Bristol Rovers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Forest Green Rovers
Torquay United
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Grimsby Town
Southport
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Lincoln City
Gateshead
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Welling
Dartford
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Woking
Nuneaton Town
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Wrexham
Kidderminster Harriers
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
Aberdeen
St Mirren
6:45 PM GMT
Game Details
León
Monterrey
1:06 AM GMT
Game Details
Atlas
Queretaro
1:30 AM GMT
Game Details
U.A.N.L
Santos
2:00 AM GMT
Game Details
Icasa
Luverdense
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Sampaio Correa-MA
Portuguesa de Desportos
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Vila Nova-GO
Ceará
10:30 PM GMT
Game Details
AA Ponte Preta
Paraná Clube
11:30 PM GMT
Game Details
Al-Ain
Al Hilal
3:15 PM GMT
Leg 2Aggregate: 0 - 3
Game Details
Herediano
Universidad De Costa Rica
Postp
Postponed - now being played Wed, Oct 1
Game Details
Next

Fans want answers over Sanchez snub

Arsenal 22 hours ago
Read
Dec 8, 2009

Rival codes' case of sour grapes

It was only a matter of time before the Australian (Rules) Football League (AFL) spoiled the party. Well, tried to, anyway.

With the word in Cape Town that Australia has emerged as frontrunners to host either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup, you could smell the fear emanating from the AFL's headquarters at Docklands.

Last week in Cape Town, FFA supremo Frank Lowy and his 2018-2022 World Cup bidding team wowed anyone who cared to listen about Australia's World Cup hosting credentials. They spoke of Australia's success in hosting major sporting events - 2000 Olympic Games, 2006 Commonwealth Games, Australian Open Tennis, Formula 1 Grand Prix, Melbourne Cup Carnival - and then hypnotised audiences with a promotional video narrated by Australian Hollywood star Nicole Kidman.

In the space of a week, Australia's World Cup bid went from cutting oranges for the first team to being the key playmaker in the line-up, from being the bid rival bidders never rated, to the bid everyone now fears - particularly the AFL and the National Rugby League (NRL).

Since football in Australia got its act together in 2003 with the creation of a new governing body and national domestic competition, the sport has become a nagging thorn for the AFL. Whereas once it could contain the sport at arm's length, the AFL is now beginning to lose its grip on its growing rival - and it's beginning to panic. It's evident for all to see and hear.

In fact, the anxiety levels are that high that the AFL is probably having heart palpitations on the back of the FFA's successful lobbying last week in South Africa.

Both the AFL and NRL are not silly. They're well aware of what's at stake. They understand that interest levels in their respective sports at the grassroots level - particularly in development areas - may flounder due to an increased interest in the world game. They understand that they may lose financially, with corporate Australia set to invest millions of dollars to be part of the World Cup juggernaut, while TV networks may regard football's TV rights package as a more lucrative investment than that of their own. And in the AFL's case, it also understands that all of the above bundled together may ultimately lead football to seriously challenge for the billing as the nation's number one sport.

So, with the FFA on a roll in South Africa, the AFL's chief executive officer, Andrew Demetriou, played the classic card - 'Us and Them'. He went on radio expressing his grave concerns that some AFL clubs would dissolve as the 2010 AFL season may be cancelled due to the unavailability of the MCG and similar venues for 16 weeks. Honestly, could he have been more dramatic?

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley moved to refute his former colleague's remarks, stating that stadiums like the MCG would be required for up to eight weeks. That's significantly fewer than 16, Andrew. This type of scaremongering is nothing new from the AFL, or its mates in the press.

When Melbourne Victory entertained Sydney FC at Telstra Dome in December 2006, some 50,000 fans attended the fixture. It was a landmark event for the fledgling competition. Rather than talking up the positives of the occasion, certain media outlets with a bias towards AFL sensationalised a couple of crowd ejections and even alluded to mass riots. If you weren't there, you would've thought Telstra Dome was a war zone.

One Melbourne daily newspaper even ran an image of a section of the crowd - Victory and Sydney FC fans seated side-by-side - on the back page to support the lead article on the so-called 'riots' at the game. Shame the image didn't really capture the violence and mayhem the article was trying to portray.

Instead, the image showed the two fan groups sitting harmoniously next to each other. Most of the fans in the photo were either watching the game, looking at their phones or picking their noses. As for those looking at their counterparts, some appeared to be laughing, others were daydreaming. Yep, fans out of control. Quick - get the pepper spray!

Since the A-League captured the imagination of Melbourne's sporting public, those media outlets no longer get away with misreporting. Converts to the game - converts who previously may have read a biased report and tarred every football fan with the same brush used on a Millwall fan - have quickly cottoned on to the media's agenda and know better. It's only a matter of time before the AFL cries wolf on one too many occasions.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.