In 2014 the FFA placed a ban on all Australian soccer clubs to display their names, symbols or colours or any other political, racial, national or religious emblems. This was done according to a National Club Identity Policy which came into place in 2014, creating much controversy in the soccer world. Now the FFA is in the process of lifting the ban, and soccer clubs will once again be free to acknowledge and display their ethnic background utilizing club names, logos and more. This is following the Football Federation Australia’s new identity guidelines still in the draft version.
The Ban on Club Identity
The initial ban was created by setting strict guidelines regarding the ways that clubs had to express their background and heritage. This was done through very much controversial the National Club Identity Policy. This policy was never well-received, and the pressure was always presented from the clubs to get the administration abolished. One of the main instigators in this change was the Charlestown City Blues in NWS. They have immediately indicated that they will be changing their logo and name for the next season. Their name will become Charlestown Azzuri. This will be done to acknowledge their Italian background.
The lifting of the ban was further supported by the realization that Australia is an extremely multicultural country, and instead of denying their diversity, they should embrace it. This was according to Peter Filopoulos, the CEO of Football Victoria. The proposed change will allow clubs to celebrate their history and heritage and give them the freedom to engage more effectively with communities.
How other clubs feel are still uncertain, although it is expected that some clubs will most definitely change their names to reflect their heritage, while others might opt to remain as they were.
The Proposed Changes
The proposed changes according to the new draft will allow clubs to express their heritage in many ways. Clubs are now free to celebrate their historical roots, and they can do it in many ways. These will include flags in the stadium if they wish to do so. They can change their names and logo’s to reflect their region, culture or history.
This should, however, be done in such a way that it doesn’t create an unnecessary rivalry with other clubs based on culture, political beliefs, ethnicity or religion. Although Filopoulos is convinced that clubs will maintain a delicate balance between healthy and unhealthy rivalry, it is noted that sometimes it is hard to keep political beliefs off the sports field. Whenever some of these high-risk games are played, the request might be made to keep the clubs expression of specific ideas to the minimum. This might mean that supporters won’t be allowed to bring flags along, which might spark conflict.
However, at the moment, it is still to be seen how the change will manifest in the various club identities. Often when restricted, the desire is great for a change, until it is allowed and then not much change happens after all.