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FORMER World Cup Socceroos coach Rale Rasic has delivered a broadside to the new regime running Australian football.
Rasic believes the FFA are guilty of suppressing Australia’s football history and demeaning the importance of the National Soccer League, past Socceroos sides and the contributions of individuals involved with all aspects of the game for over half-a-century.
Despite recognising the progress made after the fall of the NSL and the establishment of the A-League, Rasic says the lack of acknowledgement and respect for his own contribution to the game epitomises a widespread ignorance of the nation’s football past.
“What happened was logical, it was evolution. It was progress but it happened artificially,” Rasic says of the establishment of the A-League.
Rasic – who was the first Socceroos coach to qualify Australia for the World Cup finals in 1974 – says the migrant culture associated with the NSL has been ignored by Australian football’s governing body.
“We used to have many ethnic clubs, which were the pride and honour of the people who built this country into what it is today; people who kept the communities - large communities - together, without being able to speak the language.
“For them it was impossible to learn the language and assimilate quickly. It is a problem that you still find today with people having problems learning the language and having to stick together within communities,” Rasic added.
“But Lowy’s regime does not recognise any of that. He just walked over and conquered the way he wanted to conquer these people, which is just rude.”
The former NSL Coach of the Year winner and Hall of Fame inductee, says that the FFA is accountable for its censorship of Australia’s football history and for its treatment of himself and other figures from Australia’s football past
“I think the FFA only want to talk about and show certain things," he said.
“Let me tell you that certain things that they did and questions they asked of myself and other coaches and of people who sacrificed themselves and their lives to this country: they treated them like prostitutes.”
Rasic also highlighted the presence of what he believes to be hypocrisy in the policies, actions and establishment of the FFA and what has widely been described as “new football”.
Rasic added: “Frank Lowy was a founding member of the NSL.
“He goes into exile for 24 years and comes back now and says that he can make a better contribution to Australian football than I can? Is he saying that there was no-one else who had contributed to football in this country over the years?”
“There were many, many problems with the NSL but surely we could not only be criticized for the mistakes and errors we made, considering all the good that people like Theo Marmaras did for football in this country..
“Don’t forget one thing: Theo Marmaras brought Australia back to FIFA and we, ten years later, qualified for the first World Cup ever: Theo brought this country to FIFA in ’64 and we qualified in ’74.
“So Theo Marmaras doesn’t deserve any credit? The contribution of these sorts of people is absolutely enormous.”
Despite his apparent disillusionment, Rasic believes that Australia’s football history will eventually be explored.
“I honestly think there is a lot of bullshit under the cover, put it that way. I think people are speechless, people fear something: no-one is saying anything.
“But you cannot ignore history: I tell you, the bubble will burst as soon as people wake up and say to themselves ‘what is going on?’”
“We have to learn to respect the past and look forward into the future."
The 72 year-old claims the respect shown to past Socceroos sides in particular has deteriorated, citing the contrast in the approach by previous body Soccer Australia to honouring past Socceroos before the World Cup Qualifier against Iran in 1997 and the actions of the FFA after the Qualifier against Uruguay in 2006.
“Against Iran we [the ’74 Socceroos team] were paraded around the MCG in a Rolls Royce,” he said.
“Following the match against Uruguay I was asked to contribute about $25 to snacks for a ceremony honouring ex-Socceroos.
“I said ‘Please, don’t insult me.’”
He added: “Essendon and Collingwood have a tradition of 100 years and so does Rugby League. Frank Lowy and his people must get to the roots of our football history and admit that he was part of it, good or bad.
“If the FFA don’t recognise the contribution people have made to football in this country and continue to be ignorant about the history of the game, then they should be ashamed of themselves.”
“I wrote a letter to John O’Neill in his first week of office, congratulating him and saying that I was looking froward to seeing him making a contribution toward football that would take us to the next level.
“I also told him I’m the owner of the biggest museum of football in this country and whether we could meet to discuss the issue in the future.
“I am still waiting for a letter back.”