An extraordinarily diverse player base has a total of 56 ancestries represented in the A-League, the first ever multicultural audit of players has revealed.
The audit involved a survey of moire than 200 A-League players across 10 clubs in 2011-2012 and was commissioned by Football Federation Australia as part of a multicultural fan engagement campaign.
The audit measured a number of variables including ancestry, player place of birth, languages other than English spoken and those who have one or more parent born overseas.
The findings come as no surprise, FFA chief executive Ben Buckley said.
“Football is the face of Australia,” he said.
“This multicultural audit gives some great insights into the vibrant and diverse cultural background of players in the A-League and how our sport truly reflects the diversity of Australian society.
“Through the development of our national multicultural strategy, we are building links between our pool of A-League role models into the communities to assist with multicultural integration and inclusion outcomes.
“The male and female Ambassadors who will form part of our Harmony Through Football Program, which will be launched later this year, will provide an outstanding example of the cultural diversity of football in Australia.”
At the FFA Multicultural Strategic Planning Forum in July 2012, Senator Kate Lundy, Minister for Sport and Multicultural Affairs, talked about football and its link to multiculturalism.
“I believe sport is central to the Australian way of life and sport can help to teach children from all cultures values, such as self-discipline, teamwork and how to reach your goals.
“Football, as the world game, is well placed to deliver multicultural and inclusion outcomes.”
The following is a snapshot on the findings:
:: 87% of A-League players had overseas ancestry (one or more grandparent born overseas)
:: Of the Australian-based A-League teams - the overseas ancestry of players ranged from 100% for Adelaide United to 63% for Newcastle Jets.
:: The dominant continent for ancestry was Europe with 63% followed by those with Australian ancestry with 16%.
:: Of players with European ancestry, 54% were from continental Europe, 38% come from the United Kingdom and 8% from Republic of Ireland.
:: The dominant country of ancestry is England with 25%, Italy with 12% followed by Scotland with 10%.
One or more parent born overseas
:: 68 pc of the A-League players have one or more parent born overseas, above the national average of 44.7 pc (Australia - Community Profile, ABS Census 2011).
:: Melbourne Victory had the most players with one or more parent born overseas for an Australian based club, with 87 pc.
Overseas born players
:: 33% of the A-League players were born overseas, above the national population average of 26% (Australia - Community Profile, ABS Census 2011)
:: Perth Glory was the leading Australian team with 44% born overseas.
:: Melbourne-based clubs had players with the highest linguistic diversity in the league.
“With a sustained, integrated and genuine community engagement campaign, the A-League can follow in the footsteps of Major League Soccer in the USA which has used its diverse player base to reach its multicultural communities and as a result, achieved record fan growth,” said Reg Raghavan, lead analyst for the Multicultural Audit project at Red Elephant Projects.
”The MLS has surpassed both the NBA and NHL in per-game attendance and is the 10th highest attended football league in the world.”
The first ever A-League Sydney derby takes place on Saturday night when Western Sydney Wanderers hosts its first sold-out game against crosstown rival Sydney FC.
Football’s diversity will be in full bloom with the two squads including players from 14 countries representing five continents.
Marco Di Vaio bagged a hat-trick as Montreal impact claimed a dramatic 5-3 win over Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer.