With ANZAC Day set for tomorrow, football historian Ian Syson believes that football in Australia falls short of adequately celebrating the event.
Speaking on Evenings on FNR, Syson said that football has a “dilemma” on its hands with recognising the importance of ANZAC Day and of what the day means.
“We need to work out our own place in relation to the whole ANZAC story,” he said.
Syson stressed the fine line between remembering and paying respect to the ANZACs and becoming too overzealous so as to appear “exploitative” and “not respecting the tradition.”
Other football codes in Australia have ANZAC Day traditions, most notably Collingwood versus Essendon in the AFL, but Syson wonders whether or not it is as respectful as it seems.
“My personal opinion is that it’s gone too far,” he said.
“The way ANZAC sport is played out doesn’t actually respect, properly, what ANZAC Day could be or should be.”
The search for the soccer ashes goes on, and its potential discovery could lead to an opportunity to celebrate the ANZACs with a game between Australia and New Zealand, according to Syson.
“If we could find the ashes and have a game against New Zealand, then all the terms of ANZAC would be brought together,” Syson said.
“It would just be a respectful acknowledgment that our game was at Gallipoli, that our game was part of the armed forces and that soccer players were killed during the war.”
Falling on a Thursday this year places ANZAC Day outside of the regular fixturing routine, but when it lands on a Saturday next year, Syson believes that games should still go ahead as per normal fixturing.
“If ANZAC Day falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, you should just play the fixtures as you’ve planned,” Syson said.