The A-League and Major League Soccer are obvious cousins in the arms race to compete with South American and European domestic soccer leagues. They both compete in fierce markets for professional sports, they’re tasked with emulating the passion of European soccer without aping it and scaring off potential newcomers, and they also rely on aging European starlets to draw fans.
Witness this article, by the Telegraph‘s Simon Briggs. Replace ‘A-League’ with ‘MLS’, switch the proper names, and it would remain more or less accurate. Fox Sports’ preference for a “Heskey cam”, which follows the former Aston Villa striker’s every movement, is of particular interest. One can imagine the backroom fights between cameramen and camerawomen over that plum assignment, which presumably could be accomplished sitting down.
The A-League is also similar to MLS in the blinding un-self-conscious patronizing tone from the British writer it inspires, as Briggs claims with tongue in cheek that progress is measured by the fact the Australians no longer call it “soccer” but “football.” He then writes this:
“We could also learn something from football in Australia. Especially from the way it combines the passionate, inventive chanting of European or South American crowds with a family-friendly wholesomeness. In what feels like a throwback to the flat-cap era in Britain, small children and pensioners can attend matches without being subjected to ear-splitting profanities.”
Briggs also makes the curious and familiar non-empirical claim that the A-League is equal in quality to “roughly the second half of the Championship.” Moreover, Australia is referred to as a “hostile environment.”
It’s obviously difficult to write about a foreign league for an English audience without some measure of pandering, but this approach seems de rigeur for English-speaking former colonies. It’s also probably best not to take this approach to a nation that basically stole cricket from you, got rather good at it, and managed to demonstrate it humiliating fashion for the 1990s and most of the 2000s.