Sport Football How the Socceroos could look under Dawn Fraser
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How the Socceroos could look under Dawn Fraser

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The Socceroos are the national team that represents multicultural Australia like no other.

The squad at the disposal of manager Ange Postecoglou, himself born in Greece, is a melting pot of diversity and helps tell the story of our nation of migrants.

But what would the team look like if Dawn Fraser had her way?

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Kyrgios hit back at Fraser on social media. Photo: Getty
Kyrgios hit back at Fraser on social media. Photo: Getty

The former champion swimmer’s highly offensive comments that polarising tennis young guns Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic should “go back to where their fathers or parents came from” were met with anger on Tuesday.

Fraser – who was singling out Kyrgios in particular for his behaviour at Wimbledon – later apologised for the comments.

But the swimming legend is no stranger to bad behaviour herself, having copped a 10-year ban from the sport for taking a souvenir flag from the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.

Canberra-born Kyrgios was accused of ‘tanking’ by the press after he appeared to dial down his efforts during the second set of his fourth-round loss to Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon on Monday, during a match in which he also had confrontations with the umpire and his own support crew.

“They [Kyrgios and fellow tennis player Bernard Tomic] should be setting a better example … if they don’t like it, go back to where their fathers or their parents came from,” Fraser said on the Today Show.

“We don’t need them here in this country if they act like that.”

Kyrgios’ father was born in Greece and his mother in Malaysia. Kyrgios labelled Fraser a “blatant racist” on Facebook before her apology.

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane also joined the wave of criticism against 77-year-old Fraser during a speech to the National Press Club.

The incident dominated Tuesday’s headlines and the condemnation was constant.

Australia ‘one of the most racist countries I’ve played in’: Socceroo

If every footballer who’d had a run-in with a referee and had a parent born overseas was subjected to Fraser’s demands, just four of the 11 Socceroos who started last month’s FIFA World Cup qualifier in Kyrgyzstan would have played.

breakout-box-sportThere would be no Tim Cahill, the talisman who so often produces on the big stage, or captain Mile Jedinak.

The team would be no good – and certainly not Asian champions and competing at FIFA World Cups.

Josip Skoko, born to Croatian parents, made 51 appearances in midfield for the Socceroos, scoring nine goals.

He came through the ranks in Australia at Mount Gambier and North Geelong Warriors, clubs founded by Croatian immigrants, and then enjoyed a glittering career overseas that took in stints in Croatia, Belgium, Turkey, England.

Skoko said Fraser’s comments were disappointing, but he was not surprised.

“People can say what they want but if someone says that, it just tells me everything I need to know about them,” he told The New Daily.

“Australia is probably one of the most racist countries I’ve played or lived in.

“People will be disappointed by the comments but if we were to get rid of everyone who didn’t have two Australian parents, there wouldn’t be many people left.

“That’s not just in sport – in society. It’s not a discussion if you ask me. We’re basically all migrants.”

Skoko (c) is mobbed by team-mates after scoring against Greece in 2006. Photo: Getty
Josip Skoko is mobbed by team-mates after scoring against Greece in 2006. Photo: Getty

Skoko believes the multicultural nature of football in Australia is what makes it great.

“Football has always been very multicultural in Australia,” he said.

“I believe the reason we have been so successful in football over recent years is the passion that is brought from the migrant communities.

“People have come here loving football. And that passion flows down from grandparents and parents to kids.”

The academic view

Curtin University’s Dr Sean Gorman, an expert on racism in sport, said Fraser’s comments were “unhelpful”.

“Given the fact that Dawn’s an icon – she’s a natural living treasure, and rightly so – I suppose then it’s her agency to go and talk about something like this in a flippant way. It’s a bit disheartening,” he said.

“When senior well-respected people in Australia like Dawn come out with something like that, invariably it will be turned back on Kyrgios at some point.

“He was carrying on like a pork chop, there’s no two ways about that.

“But to reduce it down to someone’s race or ethnicity … it really makes it difficult.

“Where do you go to from there, other than calling someone a racist? It’s really unhelpful.”

How Kyrgios responded on Facebook

Kyrgios reacted quickly on social media. Photo: Facebook
Kyrgios reacted quickly on social media. Photo: Facebook

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