Opinion

What's in a name? FFA's mistaken identity policy

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True lovers of Australian football are hoping that a little known club from northern NSW win a legal battle with Football Federation Australia over their right to call themselves what they want.

Charlestown City Blues, who play in the Northern NSW premier league, have challenged the governing body after they were ordered to change their original name Azzurri.

The Italian-backed club have taken their case to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Newcastle Herald reported.

And if need be, the Blues - that's English for Azzurri - are adamant they would go to the Supreme Court in a bid to have their name reinstated.

The FFA edict is all part of the unpopular National Club Identity Policy, which was launched in 2014 in a highly controversial move to eliminate ethic, national, political, religious and racial links to all clubs' names, logos and emblems.

FFA Cup quarter-finalists Avondale were ordered to hide a little Italian flag at the back of their jerseys before their round of 32 tie with Marconi, prompting widespread calls for the "ridiculous" policy to be scrapped.

The move was designed to rid the Australian game of its perceived 'foreignness' as it sought to amalgamate with mainstream Australian sport in a simpler and more recognisable way.

Which was all well and good at the time but the policy has gone too far.

I have no problem with the FFA trying to stamp out the 'ethnic' nature of our old game which occasionally gave ordinary matches an ulterior edge that could have caused outbreaks of crowd disturbances.

And I understand that by aligning themselves to foreign entities via their names or badges, clubs would appeal to only a limited section of society, thereby restricting their fan bases and marketing and sponsorship capacity.

Not just of the clubs themselves but also of the league they played in.

But if we look at things objectively, we should ask ourselves how on earth can any club - particularly in such a multicultural country as Australia - be told to change their name because it sounds too foreign?

Especially if a club happen to be an old established organisation founded against all the odds by migrants and see their name as the emblem of their history and tradition.

What's wrong with AC Milan, who were founded by an English group in 1899, calling themselves "Mee-lan" instead of the Italian 'Milano'?

Brazil's Vasco da Gama owe their name to the famous explorer and to a set of Portuguese football lovers who launched the club in 1898.

River Plate of Argentina prefer to be called so instead of the more Hispanic 'Rio Plata'.

As far as I now nobody in Italy, Brazil or Argentina complains about this glaring foreign element in their midst.

It is also worth mentioning that our own governing body changed their name from Soccer Australia to Football Federation of Australia at the turn of the century when it became obvious that the latter would suit them much better.

Nobody from outside our game would even dare complain about this because the FFA quite rightly would tell anybody brave or foolish enough to do so to go jump in the river.

A-League and NPL clubs should also be afforded this sacrosanct right.

Club officials are not stupid and they would not rush into things without proper consideration.

And if they do make a wrong decision they would be the ones to suffer the consequences.

Essentially because what they call themselves is their decision and not FFA's.

The FFA could do much worse than reconsider their stance on the identity of the clubs.