In the July edition of Fair Play Publishing's PLAY ON magazine, the theme is ‘1982’. Not surprisingly, it focusses attention on the 1982 World Cup in Spain that was won by Italy.
But for our cover image, we opted not for Paolo Rossi who dazzled with his six goals – including a hat-trick in the second round knockout game against Brazil – and who won not only a world champions medal but the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards, but the inspirational captain of the Brazilian team, Sócrates.
Long before others started talking about it, Sócrates understood the power of football as a force for good and positive change. It’s a power that modern day players try to emulate, such as Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford; and, much closer to home, our own Craig Foster.
What the Doctor Ordered (Sócrates went on to become a medical doctor) is our final story in the July edition, but we open with a piece that sets the scene and takes us through the tournament from an Australian perspective; we move through a Brazilian’s perspective on the fateful match between Italy and Brazil; t one of the biggest disgraces at not only the 1982 World Cup but in football; to a perennial question about penalty shootouts – which, by the way, began at the 1982 tournament.
We hear from three of the protagonists involved in Australia’s failed qualifying campaign, and then look at 1982 from a very different perspective: the players born in that year who made it all the way to the final of the 1999 Under-17 World Cup, only to miss out on the championship medal ... because of a penalty shootout!
We travel to Moscow to be reminded of a stadium tragedy that gets nowhere near the prominence of other similar tragedies; and then hear two personal stories from 1982. One is an amusing – perhaps not to the writer! – story about the vicissitudes of following a team destined never to reach the giddy heights of a Manchester (either side of town), Liverpool or Chelsea. The other is a searingly honest and heart-warming story about a nine-year-old desperately wanting to follow football but forbidden from doing so by his ‘Anglo’ family.
This leads us back to football and how much good it can do, not just for the world, but for communities of people and for individuals.
Too many people in Australian football either don’t understand this or have lost sight of it.
You get those who hide behind Twitter accounts that criticise those who volunteer their time and their resources to get something done. You get people who are so taken with their power and their position description that they think they should no longer be held to account about football’s money that they spend on our behalf, or about the game they control as temporary custodians. And you get those who mock others who try to use football as a means of effecting social change or, indeed, who simply want to change football for the better.
One day, we hope that the Australian football ‘industry’ is mature enough to recognise, harness, appreciate and use such energy and passion for good.
Not try to silence them, intimidate them, bully them or ridicule them.
In other words, we believe there should be more people like the late, great Sócrates in football - and that’s why we’ve dedicated the 1982 themed edition of July's PLAY ON to him and all the good that he spoke out about, and he stood for.