Getty Images

Australian A-League expansion club to be called MacArthur FC

Leave a comment

SYDNEY (AP) The third Sydney-based club in Australia’s A-League will be known as MacArthur FC.

The club’s logo, featuring a bull, the back, white and ochre colors and name were unveiled in a ceremony at Campbelltown in Sydney’s southwest on Wednesday.

MacArthur will be the 12th team in an expanded top-flight competition from the 2020-21 season after A-League organizers decided last December to add two clubs.

Sydney FC was a foundation club in the relaunched A-League and won the first premiership title in 2006. Western Sydney Wanderers joined the competition in 2012.

A third club from Melbourne, Western United, is set to join the competition next season, joining four-time champion Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the national top flight.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

A-League: Dutch player alleges racist abuse from Adelaide fans

Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images
Leave a comment

SYDNEY (AP) Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Roly Bonevacia has alleged Adelaide United fans made racist comments to him during an A-League match played at Adelaide on Boxing Day.

[ MORE: Inter Milan give two-game stadium ban for racist chanting ]

The Dutch midfielder said on his social media account after the match, which finished 2-2, that he had heard racial slurs.

“Next time keep the racist comments to yourself (at)AdelaideUnited fans!!” Bonevacia wrote on Twitter. “Don’t ruin the game! (hash)sayno.”

Football Federation Australia (FFA) said Thursday it had been made aware of an incident and is working closely with both clubs and the venue to investigate what occurred.

[ MORE: Napoli’s Carlo Ancelotti: We’ll walk off with racist abuse ]

“FFA condemns any form of racist or non-inclusive remarks and will not tolerate it at any time,” the organization said in a statement on its website.

The allegations follow an incident last month where Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Jamie Young, of Scottish and Sri Lankan heritage, was racially abused by a Western Sydney fan in an A-League match at Mudgee, New South Wales.

Australia’s A-League to expand to 12 clubs

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SYDNEY (AP) The A-League will expand to 12 clubs over the next two seasons after Football Federation Australia decided to award licenses to new teams based in western Melbourne and southwest Sydney.

FFA on Thursday said the Western Melbourne Group will enter the league in October – in time for the 2019-2020 season – with the Macarthur South West Sydney bid, based in Campbelltown, entering the national top-flight competition for the 2020-21 season.

FFA chief executive David Gallop said one of the key strengths of the Western Melbourne Group was the proposal to build Australia’s first major soccer-owned and soccer-specific stadium. It will be ready in 2022, with the team playing out of Geelong’s Kardinia Park in the interim.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Japan’s Honda excelling in Australia

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not long after Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda joined the Melbourne Victory, he mentioned at the A-League season launch that “I’ve made people disappointed, I’ve made people happy … I don’t have any magic.”

Seven games into the season, the 32-year Honda is providing plenty of spark and experience for the second-place Victory, and, despite his comments, a bit of magic and passion for his team and A-League fans.

Honda, who scored 32 goals in 98 games for his national team, retired from international play after the World Cup this year when Japan lost to Belgium in the knockout stage. He was signed as the Victory’s marquee player, meaning his contract was outside the team’s salary cap.

So far, he’s been worth whatever money he is earning.

Honda has played in every minute of each of the seven games and scored four of the defending champion Victory’s 16 goals in the season so far. Even more, he appears to be a driving force on and off the field.

On Wednesday, Honda was selected by Professional Footballers Australia as the men’s player of the month.

He was taken aback when PFA representative Simon Colosimo visited a Victory practice session to make the announcement, but Honda responded in his usual humble way.

“I’m surprised,” Honda said. “I’m happy to receive the award but I am happy more when we win as a team. I appreciate the award and I received it because of my teammates.”

After the Victory beat Western Sydney Wanderers 4-0 on Dec. 1, when Honda opened the scoring in the 11th minute, the Japanese veteran thought there was still room for improvement.

“I’m not satisfied yet, we also made mistakes,” Honda told a local television reporter after the match. “We should not have been satisfied that we were four goals up. Football is entertainment, and our supporters want a full 90 minutes.”

Soon after, a person tweeted: “Rumor has it there’s a 99% chance you’ll fall in love with Keisuke Honda if you watch this interview.”

Another fan responded: “Only 99 percent?” Another added: “Honest, humble and a fan pleaser to the max. Not much to dislike.”

And an American soccer fan posted on Twitter: “We really missed out on getting this guy in MLS.”

His teammates are equally as impressed.

Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas told local media that Honda approached him a month ago with an offer for some advice.

“I think it was maybe the third or fourth round, he came to me after training, maybe two days after a game, and said, `Lawrence, I want to meet you after training and go through some of your options with playing out from the back.’

“We stayed behind for an hour and he talked me through some of the options I should be looking for, what to play. He just has a real passion for the game and he’s incredibly disciplined. I think everyone in the club can pick his brain a bit and really learn how to get to that top level.”

Honda’s English in that TV interview after the 4-0 win was getting close to perfect, and Thomas revealed why.

“I asked him how his English has improved so quickly and he said he wakes up at 5 a.m. and does two hours of English,” Thomas said. “He could probably write a better essay or speech than I can. The day after the game, he comes and does his stuff. I don’t think you get to that level of what he’s done without being consistent and having pride in what you do.”

Thomas said that kind of respect for the game rubs off on the whole team.

“It sets a great example for the young boys and for myself as well,” Thomas said. “He gives his feedback when needed … because he’s played at such a high level.”

Honda and another key 2018-19 signing, 64-cap Swedish international Ola Toivonen, will lead the Victory, who trail first-place Perth by two points and are on a five-match winning streak, into Friday’s match against the Brisbane Roar.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

A-League, MLS, BuLi aiming to bring clarity to VAR decisions

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) The head of Australia’s A-League is hoping international soccer authorities will allow video-assisted referee (VAR) decisions to be shown on television broadcasts and on stadium video boards so that the often contentious calls don’t seem like a “silent movie.”

[ MORE: ATLUTD “always knew” Martino would leave after two years ]

Greg O’Rourke says the A-League is working with Germany’s Bundesliga and Major League Soccer in the U.S. to push for communication of the VAR process in stadiums.

“American sport and Australian sport have been used to, for many years, the referees being able to talk in-stadia,” O’Rourke said Wednesday. He said existing protocols don’t “don’t allow currently the VAR to talk in-stadia or even to the commentators, it’s a bit of a silent movie. Then what happens … is the fan is left to try and interpret why – they’re just left to their own devices.”

FIFA is the sport’s world governing body, and the International Football Association Board, which includes four FIFA members, formulates the laws and protocols, including future developments of the VAR.

[ MORE: Mourinho blames lack of spending despite spending $500 million ]

O’Rourke said the National Rugby League in Australia has a good system for its video review decisions.

“The NRL have the bunker talking live to the crowd and stepping through their decision-making,” he said. Fans “don’t have to agree with what the bunker guy is saying but at least they can understand his decision-making.”

The VAR was criticized twice on the opening weekend in the A-League, both when reviews resulted in penalties being awarded.

Melbourne Victory lost 2-1 to Melbourne City when Bruno Fornaroli’s seemingly innocuous tumble earned a VAR-awarded penalty for City.

It was a similar situation in Wellington, New Zealand, where the Phoenix benefited from a late penalty after Mitch Nichols was taken down well off the ball. The subsequent spot kick sealed his team’s 2-1 win over the Newcastle Jets.