What they should do… is care more about the Asia Cup

Published in The Sunday Age Sports 16/1/11 with editor’s changes as marked.
Published in The Sunday Age Sports 16/1/11

What they should do… is care more about soccer’s Asia Cup.

Some in the media, most notably talk-show hosts, have recently mocked the Asia Cup, ridiculing it as being of little importance to Australians and dismissing any benefitAustraliawill gain from hosting the 2015 tournament. They even point to the lack of coverage that they themselves give to the game as evidence to a lack of interest among the public. While it is easy to not talk about something you do not know about this is not a reason to ignore the event’s importance.

The fact is that an estimated 655 million people watched the 2007 Asia Cup, from across Asian nations such as with huge audiences in China, India, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the Koreas. This compares to worldwide audience estimates of 46 million who watched for the 2010 Melbourne Grand Prix and an expected 240 million who will see the upcoming Australian Tennis Open.

It is not important that you like soccer. The rest of the world does. And it is not important to change Australia’s sporting habits. The rest of the world doesn’t care.

What is important is that for three weeks more people will be watching soccer than any other sport. Millions of viewers around the Asia community will follow their national team and these millions will be shown the riches of the host country. This means that there is more tourism and more exports to be gained from being part of the Asia Cup than from many other sporting events. Aside from the money there must surly be some national pride to be had from seeingAustraliahold aloft the Asia Cup. At least more than there is in seeing Leyton Hewitt win a secondround singles match.

Australian’s may not yet be massive followers of soccer but what we are is a great nation of sport loves who support our representative sides. There was some deserving fanfare for the Matilda’s when they won the woman’s Asia Cup and there should be more made of the men’s tilt to follow in the footsteps of this achievement.

We know the A-League will not change the world, and the Asia Cup is not the World Cup, but the tournament and the benefits of hosting it are far greater and well-beyond that which seems to have been reported and spoken of recently in the media. Come on Australia!

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