After a very poor showing on the world’s biggest stage, the Asian Football Confederation is in dire need for revolution. All of Iran, Japan, South Korea and Australia failed to progress past the group stage, despite most having considerable opportunity to do so.
Japan had merely to shrug off a rather timid Greek side and a stuttering Ivory Coast outfit, with a strong chance to top the group if they could upset Colombia. The Samurai Blue entered the World Cup with one of their strongest teams ever, boasting Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa, AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda and a string of talent from within the Bundesliga. Instead, they came last, mustering only a single point.
Iran entered the tournament as Asia’s top ranked side, and also fancied their chances, with World Cup debutantes Bosnia and Herzegovina aswell as Nigeria, their main competition for second place. Dreamers would even imagine them pulling off a shock victory over Argentina. Instead, they came last, mustering only a single point.
South Korea came into the World Cup with great belief, and a very strong side. Germany’s top flight has been good to the Republic, with young striker Son Heung-Min, one of the Bundesliga’s most promising talents in the past two seasons. Other players such as Jeong-Ho, Joo-Ho, Koo, and Ji Dong-won also feature in the league. South Korea had challenges in fighting off Russia, Belgium and Algeria, but all seemed incredibly achievable. Instead, they came last, mustering only a single point.
Australia had an undoubtedly difficult group, featuring Spain, the Netherlands and Chile. The Socceroos were also in a period of transition, and their failure at the World Cup didn’t come as too much of a surprise. Nevertheless, they will feel that the games against Chile and the Netherlands were there to win, if not for silly defensive errors. Instead, they came last.
Last night, Craig Foster proposed a “Pan-Asian Super League” as the solution to the AFC’s woes.
The former Socceroo and beloved SBS pundit argues that, “This would fulfill all the requirements for success by providing competition, the environment for youth development and for keeping national teams largely intact.”
His desired league would involve one or two teams representing each country in the AFC, with a capped amount of foreigners. Foster believes that this league would attract broadcasting revenue so large that teams would all have the wealth to lure their country’s top talent; allowing players from national teams to play together regularly on an international-domestic level.
FMF believes this idea to be ridiculous, as it does not address the real issues at hand. It is too soft an idea, not capable of solving Asia’s problems on the World Stage. We believe that an Asian Super League is simply not enough, and what is really needed, is a Pan-Asian Extreme Super League.
This would follow a similar model to Foster’s, with one or two teams from each Asian nation represented. However, the major distinction will be that teams will play across the European continent.
In Europe, there are better facilities and footballing infrastructure, allowing teams to play at higher levels and develop more effectively. Can you imagine how amazing for Australian football it would be if our PAESL team were to play in Milan’s San Siro? This could be game changing.
There is also more interest in securing broadcasting rights, allowing teams to attain more money and thus become better football clubs.
Another key difference would be regarding the cap on foreign players. Teams in the Pan-Asian Extreme Super League will not be banned, but encouraged to recruit young talent from Europe for their teams.
Playing alongside superior talent from European nations will improve the overall quality of the league, and thus force Asian players to lift their level accordingly. It will also attract further broadcasting interest, leading to more money and therefore quality.
During the league’s off-season, teams will return to their home nations to rest. It is here where the young European talent can become nationalised. After five years, they can become Australian citizens and eventually Socceroos. What an opportunity for the development of a new generation of extremely talented Australian footballers!
As evident, our proposed league will revolutionise a stagnating Asian Football Confederation. Playing in Europe will allow our Asian (and future Asian) stars to play regularly in high quality infrastructure. It will also provide an incredible opportunity to radically improve the grassroots system across the continent by allowing nations to recruit some of Europe’s finest young talent.
Just think: the next Cristiano Ronaldo could play for the Socceroos; the next Zlatan Imbrahimovic for Japan. Asia will be able to compete on the world stage finally. The time for change is now.
An Asian Extreme Super League is the solution.