FFA CEO David Gallop says Kevin Sheedy’s comments linking Western Sydney Wanderers with the immigration department were a ‘clumsy own goal’.
GWS Giants ccoach Sheedy defended his own AFL side's poor crowd record in Sydney by saying the Wanderers had a "recruiting officer called the immigration department recruiting fans”.
The AFL coach has since come under fire from fans and media for the outburst but Gallop said that while Sheedy's comments were ill-judged, they illustrated how far football has come.
“Kevin’s comments were clumsy," Gallop told the FFA's website. "No doubt he didn’t mean to offend immigrant or non-immigrant football fans, but it’s an own goal. I’m sure AFL types would be tearing their hair out today.
“Everyone knows that football represents Australia in all its diversity. WSW represent western Sydney in all its diversity. That’s why we are on the move compared to the other codes.
“Football’s time has arrived. The game has a new self-confidence. One rash comment by a coach in another sport won’t change that.”
Sheedy defended his comments on Monday, saying he didn't understand why there there was anger in the community...and repeated his original statement.
"I wouldn't know why there's backlash," Sheedy said.
"I think most people would know that the program I've always set myself is to help people build Australia, always make people inclusive of being part of this great country when they come here.
"It's a throwaway line to make sure that everybody understands that is why soccer can get such a quick crowd.
"And of course, quite amazingly why it's taken so long to put another (A-League) team in the west, because they've got an enormous fan base there.
"When people ring you up about only 5,800 fans coming to watch a game and then you discuss it with the Wanderers' crowds, when you say the Immigration Department is one of the best recruiting agencies for soccer, I didn't mean anything untoward by that, but it's a fact.