Slater’s racism rant fosters divide

Source: News Limited.

Sunday morning’s paper is usually a relaxing read. Not so for former Socceroo and FOX Sports football pundit, Robbie Slater. On opening the sport section of Fairfax’s Sun-Herald, he was disgusted to find an article by longtime Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) media adversary and former teammate, Craig Foster, on the appointment of Jim Magilton as Melbourne Victory coach. Slater, so incensed, decided to vilify Foster through social media network, Twitter, that afternoon.

“OK, here goes. I am sick of the continual attacks, and in my opinion, racist comments from Craig Foster on British people. His article in today’s Sun-Herald, in my opinion, is a racist column and it is beyond me how he continually gets away with these vile articles. You have disgraced yourself. What a way to welcome someone to our great country and please, Jim Magilton, do not think this is the way that decent Australians welcome people from other countries,” said Slater.

It is well documented that Foster, and SBS, take a more multicultural view of football. Hence the title of weekly football show, The World Game, aired on Monday nights. Unlike FOX’s weekly roundup show, FOX Sports FC, The World Game covers more than Australian and English (primarily, Barclays Premier League) news and views.

Foster is revered for his analysis and firm opinions on what’s happening in the A-League. Many viewers (particularly those new to the game) have branded him arrogant, patronising and unrealistic. Often accusing him of bias towards his beloved continental football, and overdoing his praise of Barcelona. It would be fair to say that he undoubtedly prefers Spanish, Italian and even German football to the English game.

“Who, Craig, do you think you are to tell the Victory of who they should employ and of what race. Why do you pretend to know what and who is a good coach? You have never coached anyone and why is nationality important? British people have made a massive contribution to the history of our game and continue to do so,” continued Slater.

They most certainly have. Throughout our grassroots clubs across the country, you’ll find them.  Barking non-stop from the sidelines, instructing developing footballers to “kick it long” and “fight for the ball” or perhaps, “keep it simple, lads.” Those who’ve been in the game long enough, particularly the volunteers, know this beast.

Is Foster a racist for preferring a different style, to want the foundations of a developing league to be built on modern progressive football? Would Slater call him a racist if he preferred a fine Spanish wine to an English lager? Please. One look at Foster’s Facebook page would highlight his tolerance and acceptance of all races, colours and creeds. His ambassadorial role for refugee humanitarian organisation, Football United, is a shining example.

Slater’s sticking up for Magilton, his former Southampton teammate, and his monocultural employer, Premier Media Group by supporting his personal and professional relationships over the longterm interests of the game. This type of loyalty is not uncommon. It happens every day in corporate Australia.

“It is surprising that you dislike the British so much because after all, they gave you a career playing in the, guess what? The Championship. You didn’t mind the British then did you? Good money you earned and you enjoyed it all with the help of an Englishman, Terry Venables. The best you ever had, didn’t you once say? A man who saw more in you than anyone else did,” Slater added, in an attempt to paint Foster a hypocrite.

If Slater actually bothered to apply critical thought to Foster’s article, he may have noticed his comments were aimed at the direction of coaching, systems and methodology in Australia. Instead, Slater chose to focus on one paragraph which, at best, implies an institutionalised xenophobia still exists.

Foster believes, “It harks [Magilton’s appointment] to both the historical reliance on Britons who built and quickly populated the coach education ranks in Australia and the beginnings of the A-League, when the immediate reaction of clubs was to import at a feverish rate from the mother country.”

This is a well-established view at SBS. Slater was quoted as saying, “SBS is now redundant” not so long ago. Why? Because Australians only like English football or perhaps, they prefer to pay to watch the game that used to be free.

SBS’s football father, Les Murray, used to talk about this stuff on air with the late, Johnny Warren.

In his book, By the Balls (Random House Australia, 2006), he writes, “I’m sure Johnny would join me in shouting that Australia is a submissive football culture, deep in the throws of a colonial mentality, paying undue homage to motherland influences that are beyond their time and regressive to our football interests.”

“He would say that we should listen to the ‘wogs’, allow them to influence us.  Johnny never used the word ‘de-ethnicisation’ though he did campaign for football’s ‘Australianisation’: something he defined as the increased use of Australian players and coaches, giving our kids a go; and being pro-active in shaping our own football identity.”

It’s worth noting that it was Johnny who saw something special in Foster and invited him on the show, kick-starting his media career.

In an attempt to rile Foster, Slater said, “What is this pedestal you have put yourself on? It is not the one the late and great, Johnny Warren, stood on. He would be ashamed of you! And, who are you to preach with your dark secret?”

“Well, bugger you. You upset my 82-year-old father, who had a tear in his eye after reading your crap. Yes, he is English but back to your secret. Explain to all your followers why you are the only Socceroo to have been, to my knowledge, effectively banned, never to be selected again, after a disgraceful incident following a World Cup Qualifier in Tahiti. Maybe the true legend who got you out of that Tahitian jail should have left you there! Hang your head in shame.”

The Socceroos coach at the time was Frank Farina. Those inside the game who know this so-called “dark secret” must be laughing. It’s an absolute storm in a teacup. I recall Farina doing a few things that got him in trouble during his stint as Brisbane Roar coach, no? What about Slater’s good mate, Mark Bosnich. Is he a Saint? What, Slater’s never made a mistake before? His emotional intelligence mirrors that of a toddler, to bring that up as blackmail is juvenile.

Perhaps the most amusing part to his dummy spit was his suggestion that Les Murray should reprimand him. For what?

“And Les Murray, you should haul him into your office and tell him his comments are unacceptable. After all, he does work for the excellent multicultural channel, SBS. Surely, they can’t be happy with this sort of behaviour. Enough is enough! And that’s all I have to say about that!”

SBS is an “excellent multicultural channel” now. Wasn’t it redundant?

In Chapter 15 of Warren’s gospel, Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters (Random House Australia, 2002) he states, “Australia’s best coach is SBS.”

“[SBS] has singularly been the most influential organisation on the development of football in Australia. From youngsters first being introduced to playing the game to internationals strutting their stuff in the most celebrated competitions, SBS has enhanced the knowledge and understanding of the world game in Australian fans and players alike.”

“SBS is a network with viewers from all sorts of backgrounds and allegiances. Even when an Australian team has been playing, objectivity has had to be maintained at all times.”

If only Slater could understand, there’s a bigger picture.

Foster and his views on football, clearly articulated in his first book, Fozz on Football (Hardie Grant Books, 2010) has an unwavering passion. That is, to see Australia reach a consistent and well-respected place in world football.

Instead of being emotional, single-minded and down right childish, Slater would do himself a world of good by thinking before he jumps to conclusions. Australians typically love a larrikin, a boofhead, a glass half-full type of character. In that regard, Slater wins the popular vote.

Foster is a different animal. He is critical, often mistaken for negative, because he understands the historic struggle from the grassroots to the Socceroos. The game is supposed to be fun, but someone has to get serious about its future.

The game, its players and fans lose in this kind of civil war of competing ideologies. For those of us who have spent tens of thousands of dollars or more on football, watched and supported the game during the National Soccer League era (and prior to), packed the car for inter-State trips or flown around the world to support the Socceroos, and now embraced the A-League: we deserve better.

In response to Slater’s comments, Foster has come out today and said, “Whilst some of the comments yesterday were serious and warrant further action, I’m pleased an important issue is given oxygen for debate.”

Slater has defended his comments today on FOX Sports News. He’s not one to back down until ingloriously proven wrong. Remember his condemnation of Harry Kewell regarding his place in the Socceroos? The embarrassing on-air feud?

This debate will divide the football fraternity. On Twitter last night, there were so many tweets flying around that both “Robbie Slater” and “Craig Foster” were trending. A personal and potentially defamatory attack on a former teammate isn’t the sort of trend to be proud of.

Slater, play the ball and not the man.

17 Responses to Slater’s racism rant fosters divide

  1. pauloliveri says:

    great read anthony as always. i think that fozzie sets the bar high. wanting every one to see how the game should be played. he is very one minded. i tend to listen more to foz and he critiques each and every player showing us players and coaches how to model the game,

    the only good thing about slater is that he works with mel mclaughlin. christ almighty!
    slater on the other hand just doesnt cut it for me. BORING and predictable when he commentates and when he is on the open panel. uses very basic terminology of the game (maybe the producers have asked him to so he can engage in new football watchers, or maybe he is just a shit for brains i dont know). Slater though is sticking up for his mate migilton, and sticking up for the english game because thats all he knows. basically i think he is jealous of fozzies opinions and standards for the game.

    I do understand though that fox sports fc only shows the rights to a-league and EPL is because thats what their station is promoting and effectively can only show those two leagues. SBS is a multicultral station, exploring other leagues and other soft porno movies as they have for how every long they have been in existance. But in saying that SBS is known for the history of the game and gave it a chance when no other network wanted to. Fox sports is trying to rally the rest of the australian public to bandwagon with ‘slater’ since that memorable moment in 2005 because its a money maker, they dont really give a shit (except maybe bozza, i rate him). SBS shows the passion for the game, hence fozzies loyalty to multicultralism and expressing how to give the australian game a brighter future.

  2. Andy says:

    Very well put and definately an eye opening article. Well done!

  3. Nick Stoll says:

    Fantastic article. Articulate and convincing. Well done mate.

    “In any forum, if you fail to formulate a cogent argument & personalize the issue you have already lost. Opinion is the life blood of the game.” The perfect response from Fozz.

    Slater failed to stick to the issue, choosing to personally attack Craig in an attempt to deflect from his lack of evidence in composing an opposing argument.

    Fozz pivoted back to the issue, he could of slumped to Slater’s level and returned with a personal attack of his own, but he realized that the good of the game is more important than his own reputation.

    He realized that in order for football in this country to prosper, the standard of coaching must be lifted at all levels. He realized this when Terry Butcher – who Slater supported – was announced as Sydney FC coach, and was later proved right after the Englishmen’s disasters reign came to an end.

    If Melbourne Victory wish to be the biggest club in Asia, as their Chairman said only months ago, then why did they not appoint a coach with the experience, education and reputation capable of getting them there? This was Fozz’s argument. This should be the question posed when all A-League clubs appoint a coach and football director.

    The charge of racism is ridiculous. Craig is an ambassador for Harmony Day, an initiative to promote and celebrate Australia’s cultural diversity. He organised a friendly match between SBS presenters and former Socceroos to play Parliamentarians in Canberra last year to promote the day. One of the most enthusiastic MPs to participate in the game was Senator. Stephen Conroy – a man of British decent. Conroy and Fozz have maintained a friendship since.

    He has worked at SBS for ten years, an organization that was set-up to promote multiculturalism. Volunteered numerous times for Football United, a fantastic organization that aims to use football to bring together kids of all colours and creeds. Fozz said himself that of all the things that Slater said it was this that hurt him most.

    And even in England, Gareth Southgate, the FA’s head of elite development has said that England “can’t keep producing the English-style player.” Is he racist? Of course not. Southgate wants to copy Barcelona’s unprecedented success in producing world class players – the FA are encouraging him to do it, planning to educate their coaches in the Barca philosophy. Funny that, sounds like something Fozz would say.
    England hasn’t won a major trophy in nearly 50 years. They have never produced a FIFA World Player of the Year. Fozz demands the best for Australia, we aren’t going to find it in England.
    The modern game was invented in England, I personally fell in love with the game when I lived there for a year as a nine-year old. They have produced many great players; Stanley Matthews, Gascoinge, Rooney. Fozz himself says the greatest coach he worked under was Terry Venabels – an Englishman. But Australian football’s continued reliance on mediocre British coaches and players will mean we never grow.

    Slater said he felt compelled to speak out, he wanted to defend his mate – I respect that. But he went about it completely the wrong way. And why now is Slater speaking out?

    Slater didn’t speak out against our atrocious presentation when bidding for the world cup. Fozz did.

    Slater didn’t call for an experience and world-class technical director to change the national curriculum being taught to young players. Fozz did.

    Has Slater demanded, time and time again, for a more competent governing body – a governing body that is capable of delivering the changes need at all levels of the game? Fozz has.

    Because football will outlive all of us, because it is more powerful than all of us, it is imperative that we have a strong, educated and informed debate. Fozz understands and preaches this, in the face of adversity. Robbie Slater tries to take out his legs while he does it.

  4. sean says:

    I read this article becuase Les Murray praised it on twiiter and now I understand why he likes it : “Slater’s sticking up for Magilton, his former Southampton teammate, and his monocultural employer, Premier Media Group” – is that the monocultural employer of the likes of Rudan, Zappone and Bosnich? See, that is why Les would like it because you haven’t let facts get in the way of a good story.
    You mention Bosnich and Farina have had there troubles, if their Socceroo’s careers had ended in a Tahitian jail then I would not have been suprised, even if Slater’s had I would not have been shocked. But this is the high voice of Australian Football, the Oricle, the golden child who basically says that everything is not good enough for his lofty standards, and it turns out it was his career that ended in a Tahitian jail, not as a stupid young kid but a man into his thirties.
    Slater was right, get off your high horse Foster…

  5. Reece says:

    I am not sure if that was being racist in anyway, as the British game is unique and shouldn’t be known as any other than the BRITISH way of playing. However there’s 1 main reason the EPL does so well and that’s the international players that play in it and that’s because of the money. The tactics aren’t really going to be that big a part when you have players of that quality. So to say that he’s racist based on him saying he’d prefer Australian sides not playing a british style of play, come on!

    Counter-attacking football is the way to win games. Brazil haven’t won 5 times, been runners up twice, been third twice and fourth once playing conservatively.

  6. BSFootball says:

    Well everyone has opinions and anyone with no clue about football can write a blog, like this one.

    Forgetting Slaters go at Fuzzie, whilst maybe over passionate its about people started seeing the fraud for what he is. An over opinionated moron that SBS found to try save their dwindling viewers by creating contraversy. Sucking in all the suckers, like this author.

    Let’s have a look at what total football has done for Aus football?
    How many high paid Dutch coaches have succeeded in our crappy A-League? Waste of money like Rini Coolen
    What have the Dutch done to our junior development since rolling in on all those high salaries and commendations? Nothing!
    They’ve ruined the AIS
    Our joeys and youth teams struggle to qualify and if they are lucky enough to gain a berth at a WC they are out in the group stage. Not so long ago our youth teams would go close to winning the youth world cup.
    Where’s the next Harry, Bosnich, Neill, Viduka, Emerton going to come from?

    All this crap about total football and beautiful game without any substance, like this article.

    Forget ethics, whatever the race. We need to start to internalise our focus and funding on Australian coaches and developing OUR game.

    Remember Foster said AngePost can’t coach on live TV. What a clown. Anyone watched Brisbane play?
    Foster also tore shreds into Graham Arnold as a coach, anyone seen the Mariners (without a marquee) at the foot of the table?

    Foster and similar views are for uneducated football fans to follow like sheep. Or monkey see monkey do. After all you clearly have no idea.
    Wake up and smell some that coffee or get some well needed rest before the next football article.

  7. richie says:

    you just sound like a dumb twat with a chip on his shoulder to me.To be honest the problem with plebs like you and foster is your ignorance of the history football in england.Its only since the 80’s that some clubs played long ball football which was taken up sadly by the likes of taylor etc.Before that our tradition for most of history since we invented the fucking game and gave it to people like yourself was the passing game thats why english football was so successful from the late 60s to 80s.We are having this own debate in our own country which thankfully is a proper football country and not a tinpot one like australia.Despite some of our clubs shortcomings we have still managed to build the most popular league in the WORLD..wtf is your crappy ‘a’ league cunt?

  8. JP says:

    Great summation of the issue. Excellent writing. Well in.

  9. SUFC says:

    Oh so it’s only the British who yell ‘hit it long’ at junior football? That comment makes me wonder if you’ve ever actually played the game yourself or if your only view on it is moulded by what’s said on TWG show. I’m a Croat and I’ve seen plenty of Croats, Italians, Greeks etc yelling out the same stuff.

    The fact is that Foster dismissed MV’s new coach before he had coached a single game based on nothing else but the guy’s nationality and possibly his wiki page. How does Fozzie know that his past teams didn’t play in a style that would please him? Had his name been Jose Magilo he would have been telling us all what a great signing MV had made.

    • JP says:

      Where does Foz dismiss Magilton? He questions the logic and remains skeptical of the drivers behind hiring Magilton.

      ‘Hopefully Magilton proves capable of producing high-quality, winning football based on a system of movement and short passing..’ Fosters words…

  10. Brad says:

    I’d like to think that maybe they both make points worth considering but apparently, possibly because this blew up on the internet, people must take a side and completely dismiss and/or discredit the other.

  11. wowbagger says:

    I agree that Robbie went a bit over the top regarding Foster’s article, and I think you’ve covered the issue quite well.

    But on the substance of the debate (not the twitter flaming), I do believe the idea that Aussie’s can watch the Premier League (because they speak English), but play like Barcelona is ridiculous. Is it really outrageous to think we should play the style of football that has the largest cultural influence on our game (and nation for that matter)?

    We can all talk about importing great styles from around the world, but if it were that easy, everyone would do it. You have to play to your strengths. That doesn’t mean uprooting the ‘fun’ out of all grassroots football. We don’t have to change our football culture, we have to understand it.

    I think Foz is a bit idealistic in that sense, he wishes Aussie football culture was something it isn’t and probably never will be.

    • JP says:

      Have you watched Brisbane play?

    • El_Barto says:

      Well if that’s the case Australia will never amount to ‘anything'(by world standards) in football.

      We DO have to change, or at least modify, our footballing culture, which let’s not forget has also been shaped as much by the cultural norms of the ‘traditional’ codes here as much as by ‘British fight-ball’.

      England invented the game but have only won ONE World Cup, which BTW happened nearly half a century ago, in front of their home crowd, thanks largely to a disputed goal. Heck they’ve never even been European Champions…

      Hint hint…

  12. Sam says:

    How much of a kickback do you get from the Silver Fox Fozzy for writing this rubbish mate? Foster was in jail for getting drunk and being a knob in public. He himself has said he used this example to teach young footballers ‘what not to do’ when on international tours.

    I’ve got no problem with what Foster is trying to do, bring the standards of football in this country to a level where on a world scale, we are competitive with the best. Fair enough. The problem is that he has to take people down with it, first Ange (wait a tick..how did that work out again??) and now Magilton (before he had even coached a game mind you). Foster sits on his horse and takes potshots at people all day long..professing over the game like his some bloody scholar. The only person in this country who can do that is Bosnich and Kewell. Two who have played at the highest level for a long period of time, for 2 of the best clubs in the world.

    Good on Slater for having a go, someone had to regarding Foster and his arrogance.

  13. Scott says:

    Well said Tezza. Slatter is a joke of a football media commentator. Things go quite so he decides to go digging for a beatup.

  14. Arya Vee says:

    great read as always, this man definitely knows his football and writes with obvious passion..

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