A-League players’ union calls for inquiry into SCG surface shambles


“Firstly, that FFA immediately commission an independent investigation into the process undertaken to approve last night’s match as being fit for play.

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“The Laws of the Game dictate this is fundamentally a decision for the referee. However, the increasing complexity of match day operations makes it inconceivable that a referee would, or should, make such a decision in isolation of stakeholders.

“Secondly, endorse a motion that players will no longer play on surfaces unacceptably compromised by a cricket wicket. As demonstrated last night, cricket wickets present an unreasonable danger to the health and safety of footballers and it remains the view of the PFA that players are under no obligation to participate in matches when such risks are present. This includes the SCG.”

The standard of playing surfaces has long been a point of frustration in Australian football but on Saturday night it may have directly attributed to a potential long-term injury of a player after Antonis was fell to the ground, writhing in pain with no player remotely close to him. The extent of the injury is yet to be determined, nor has the pitch been officially identified as the cause of it. “The thoughts of every A-League player are now with Terry Antonis in the hope that his worst fears are not realised,” Didulica said.

Sydney FC is scheduled to play one more match at the SCG this season – against Perth Glory on April 18 in a clash which could have huge implications for the A-League title race.

The Sky Blues are set to review the fixture on Monday in conjunction with FFA as to whether it goes ahead or is moved to Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

The SCG has been under unprecedented strain this year following the demolition of the adjacent Allianz Stadium. All four major football codes are being accommodated but scrums from a recent rugby union match tore up the grass and it has been unable to properly recover.

The A-League suffers from the impact more than any other competition because of the nature of the sport, which requires an even surface for the ball to be properly moved around.

Speaking after the match, Victory coach Kevin Muscat repeatedly said the state of the pitch was not an excuse for the result but claimed Australian football can no longer accept poor pitches if it wants to be taken seriously.

“To ask players to come to work and work under those conditions is unacceptable,” he said. “There might be a serious injury as a result from it. For players to go out on to that – whatever it’s called – is a disgrace.

“If we accept it ourselves as a code, it is part of the reason why everybody else treats us with contempt. All the other codes and everybody else treats us with contempt because we accept that ourselves. Instead of looking outside, let’s look at ourselves.

“That surface was not conducive to a ball rolling on it. First and foremost it was dangerous. For the players to perform the way they did and give everybody the excitement and entertainment that they did was remarkable.”

Dominic Bossi is a football reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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