Proving the social justice movement isn’t just for otherkins, Australian football supporters have come together on the Internet to express their outrage over pioneering goalkeeper Kile Kennedy’s omission from Ange Postecoglou’s 30-man preliminary World Cup squad.
Currently plying his trade in 2. deild karla, the Icelandic Third Division, the 24-year-old from Cobram, Victoria, pictured below staring forlornly at a distant silo, was overlooked for the preliminary squad announced by Postecoglou on Wednesday. Disregarding Kennedy’s recent form for his club, Knattspyrnufélag Fjarðabyggðar, Postecoglou instead opted for Mat Ryan, Mitchell Langerak, Eugene Galekovic and Mark Birighitti, of Newcastle Jets fame.
Regular watchers of 2. deild karla, including football analyst Kate Cohen, have been vocal supporters of Kennedy, turning to social media to publicise his outstanding recent form to the wider public.
“Kile has been in incredible form,” said Cohen, a fan of Ungmennafélagið Valur Reyðarfirði before their merger with Íþróttafélagið Þróttur Neskaupstað and Ungmennafélagið Austri Eskifirði to become Knattspyrnufélag Fjarðabyggðar in 2001.
“He’s definitely one of the rising stars in Iceland and Knattspyrnufélag Fjarðabyggðar have been drawing some big crowds off the back of Kile. The local Icelanders haven’t been able to enjoy watching an Australian in the flesh since Buddy Farah played for Keflavík in 2006, so they’ve embraced Kile as one of their own.
“To be honest, I was shocked when I saw the squad. We don’t have enough keepers playing regularly in Europe to be able to overlook him. We need competition for places, plus his age means he’s a star of the future.”
Unable to contact Kennedy himself, FMF reached out to their Knattspyrnufélag Fjarðabyggðar contact, who said that Kennedy, although very disappointed after hearing of his exclusion from the squad, has had his spirits lifted by the wave of support he has received back in Australia.
“Kile is just trying to focus on his football now, but you couldn’t keep the smile off his face when we gave him his fan mail,” said club contact Ríkharður Þór Þórsson.
“His World Cup dream is over for now, but he is eternally grateful to all the fans back home who have taken up the fight on his behalf; this certainly isn’t the last Australia has heard of Kile Kennedy.”
One of those taking up the fight has been football activist Shaun Mooney, who has been spotted on Twitter rallying supporters to Kennedy’s cause. This cause has seen a veritable groundswell of support for the young Victorian and has also sparked a vitriolic backlash against Football Federation Australia, with some calling for a complete review of the selection process.
— Shaun Mooney (@ShaunMooney11) May 14, 2014
But Football Federation Australia is far from impressed by the public protest, with a staff member close to the squad suggesting the #Justice4Kile campaign has the potential to distract the Socceroos camp from their quest for World Cup glory.
“Look, we know we’re in a really tough group [against Spain, Chile and the Netherlands], the lads don’t need all this added stress,” the staff member told FMF.
“This campaign against the omission of Kennedy runs the risk of upsetting team harmony. Can you imagine how Mitch [Langerak], Eugene [Galekovic] and Birraz [Birighitti] are feeling right now?”
The staff member, who wished to remain confidential, went one further, suggesting that the revolt could impact Australia’s performance on the world stage.
“I truly believe if this isn’t nipped in the bud, it could ultimately jeopardise our performance in Brazil. We’re really worried about the reaction if, heaven forbid, we lose to Spain because the team was distracted by the unnecessary shenanigans surrounding Kile.”
The staff member also emphasised the need to send the most visible players to Brazil, so as to enhance the team’s promotional efforts back in Australia.
“In order for our campaign to be successful, we could only afford to take the biggest stars to Brazil – Kile doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page! How can we draft in complete outsiders like Kennedy over players like Bailey Wright?”
With no appeal possible, it would appear both Kennedy and his passionate supporters are on a hiding to nothing. While the Internet is known for its protracted justice campaigns, at this stage it looks likely that #Justice4Kile is destined to become #Kile4Russia2018.