AFL provides insufficient support for European leagues: Germany

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Australian Football League (AFL) has recently come under fire for not supporting European Australian rules football organisations. Local teams have affiliated with AFL teams who help provide them with balls, guernseys and other equipment.

"Since 1995 we have been asking the AFL for support on a regular basis, mostly concerning material. Apart from a few footballs, there was basically no support," said Malte Schudlich, president of AFL Germany. "We would be in exactly the same situation today if we would have never had any contact with the AFL."

Australian rules football is played on a field 170 metres by 160 metres. The two teams consist of 18 players a side. Scores are quoted as goals-behinds (total).

Background

Ireland have sent a team to all three International Cups, winning in 2002. 2008 team pictured

Australian rules football is played across Europe with Ireland, the United Kingdom and Denmark having arguably the oldest competitions. All three nations have sent teams to the Australian Football International Cup. Currently national teams play either one off internationals and/or play in either a tri-nation tournament, the EU Cup or the Central European Australian Football League Championships

While Germany has a a local league with similar success to those mentioned above, AFL Germany holds the position that money that would be spent sending a team to the International Cup would be better spent developing the game locally.

Australian rules football in general gets exposure with games from the AFL being broadcast live into Europe through Eurosport 2 with an unknown few watching online. "Grand Final Parties" were set up by the local Australian rules football communities and clubs. 12 such parties were listed on World Footy News, an independent news source covering Australian rules football related topics from around the world.

The AFL is currently the de facto world governing body for the sport of Australian rules football.

The European stance

Cquote1.svg Since 1995 we have been asking the AFL for support on a regular basis, mostly concerning material. Apart from a few footballs, there was basically no support Cquote2.svg

—Malte Schudlich, president of AFL Germany

The European stance generally stems from the respective local bodies perceived inability to promote and develop the sport. The Swedish AFL has forged an alliance with their Rugby Union counterparts, in a bid to alleviate this problem, giving them lobbying power with local funding bodies. AFL Germany is also forging a similar alliance with the local American football community for the same reasons.

"They've got the money and they said they were happy to take us on board," Schudlich said. "They approached us. It doesn't mean we have to do anything for American football. They are just like an umbrella. They're pretty laid back. They said, 'We're not going to interfere with your sport'."

Schudlich admits that the AFL Germany must be self sufficient. "In the end, if you want to get football growing here in Germany then we need to get our funds in Germany. We can't depend on a country that's far, far away."

The Karlstad Eagles aligned themselves with AFL team the West Coast Eagles in May. As part of this alignment, Karlstad received long sleeve jumpers, allowing them to train year round. Club president Jimmy Ljunggren said, "We can train all year round in these. We just need a couple of snow ploughs to clear the track in winter."

The Australian Football League's stance

The AFL's main development focus is in Australia. A regional game is pictured.
Image: Patrick Gillett.
South Africa receives the largest contribution for game development from the AFL. National team player pictured on the right

Wikinews emailed the Australian Football League to get its response to this occurrence. In its response, the AFL said that its primary focus in terms of development was in Australia.

"The AFL’s focus on our game development spending is heavily focused on Australia. While our game is the dominant winter code in SA, Victoria, WA, the NT and Tasmania, we are certainly not the number one sport in Queensland and New South Wales – two of the three largest population bases in our own country."

According to the AFL, it spends "approximately $1 million for all investment around the world." The largest of this investment is in South Africa. "As said [before], the AFL spends approximately $1 million on funding for football leagues outside of Australia. The largest spend we do currently have is in South Africa, which has had very good results."


Sources

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