May 21, 2020 / 8:41 AM / 16 days ago

Australia's 'Golden Generation' calls for reset of game

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - A group of Australia’s top former soccer players have called for the national governing body to use the coronavirus shutdown for a reset of the domestic game.

The group, part of the 2006 team dubbed the ‘Golden Generation’ that ended Australia’s 32-year wait for a World Cup appearance, said standards had stagnated in recent years.

“What we see now is that the pool of talent needs broadening, and standards and quality have not advanced as much as they should,” former Socceroos captain Craig Moore said in a media release on Thursday.

“It’s wonderful to see the progress of the women’s game in the past decade, but we believe the men’s game has not kept pace because the necessary pre-conditions for success are not there.”

The group includes former captains Mark Viduka and Lucas Neill, along with John Aloisi, Scott Chipperfield, Vince Grella, Zeljko Kalac, Josip Skoko and Luke Wilkshire.

Australia reached the knockout rounds at the 2006 World Cup in Germany but have failed to match that feat at the last three global tournaments.

Australia’s women were knocked out of the round of 16 at the World Cup in France last year, four years after reaching the quarter-finals in Canada.

Australia’s top flight A-League championship was suspended in March due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, prompting governing body Football Federation Australia to furlough 70% of staff.

The group said they intended to use their “significant knowledge, experience and contacts in the game to help secure Australia’s football future.”

Moore said too much money was going into supporting “too many layers of administration” and not enough into improving football development and encouraging greater engagement in the game.

“We know how football should work,” he added. “We don’t accept the narrative that the game is ‘struggling’ and must take its place behind other sports and other broadcasting priorities.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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