The Western Sydney Wanderers squad has left Sydney for Morocco, quite probably to take part in the Club World Cup. “Probably”, because the club and players are embroiled in a pay dispute.
In further proof that the NSL was better than the A-League, South Melbourne managed to compete in the 2000 Club World Championship in Brazil without a messy, headline-grabbing pay dispute. Although there’s talk that the ATO took an interest in the player bonuses later. Allegedly, etc etc. Nothing to see here, move along please.
An official from a rival A-League club remarked earlier this year that things would be different for Western Sydney when it was no longer owned by the FFA. How right he was… although he was talking about active support issues. Mere details.
Money matters are tedious. Don’t tell me about the birth pains, just show me the baby! Wake me up when the pay dispute has been resolved and the match is about to kick off. So let’s return to the 2000 Club World Championship.
The 2000 tournament in Brazil was played during January. Manchester United agreed to the FA’s suggestion to withdraw from that season’s FA Cup in order to play in FIFA’s tournament. United had won the 1999 FA Cup, and became the first FA Cup winners to not defend their title. It was reported at the time that the FA wanted United to play in the FIFA tournament because (get this) the FA believed it could aid England’s 2006 World Cup bid.
Manchester United didn’t make it past the group stage, despite beating South Melbourne 2-0 in the last group game.
South Melbourne didn’t win a game, but John Anastasiadis did at least get on the score sheet in the 1-3 loss to Necaxa (Mexico). Necaxa finished the tournament third, beating Real Madrid in the third-place playoff.
Western Sydney Wanderers are due to face Mexican opposition in Morocco. Cruz Azul will be Wanderers’ first (and probably only) opponent.
The winner of that match will face – guess who? – Real Madrid. There have been suggestions in the Australian media’s reporting of the Wanderers’ pay dispute that there’s a possibility of Western Sydney not just making it to the play-off against the Spanish giants but defeating them. It could happen.
Disclosure: the author is a bitter Carlton SC supporter, who resents every success South Melbourne had during Carlton’s brief existence.