Contributed by: Brett Northey
The 2008 International Cup is now less than 18 months away (assuming an August 2008 date). This might seem like a long time to fans but supporters outside of Melbourne might want to start considering now whether they'll take a trip to Victoria's capital for the event. More importantly it means league administrators around the world will need to finalise whether their country will attend and start drawing up plans for getting around forty players and officials Down Under. Making sure players are available and sufficient funds are in place are two of the biggest issues. With AFL General Manager of National and International Development, David Matthews, recently speculating that as many as 20 nations may attend, we've looked at all the possible countries and rated the likelihood that they will be in Melbourne in 2008.
Below is a table rating each country on whether they are likely to attend and what key issues they face, other than usual financial pressures. As the tournament approaches we will steadily add stories via the front page of WFN. They will also appear in our dedicated 2008 International Cup page. See International Cups for our revamped central page for the 2002, 2005 and 2008 tournaments.
If all countries listed as moderate or better chances of attending do participate, and perhaps 3 of the other 12, that would give a total of 17 sides. Unless the AFL significantly funds all-comers, a reasonable estimate would seem to be 16 teams, an excellent result considering there were 10 in 2005 and 11 in 2002.
Also see our poll "How many countries will attend the 2008 International Cup?".
2008 International Cup - attendance and performance issues:
|Country||Attendance Likelihood||Attendance Issues||Performance Issues|
|Papua New Guinea||Very high||None||Have selected mainly juniors in past|
|New Zealand||Very high||New CEO position in limbo||Are enough juniors being kept in the sport?|
|United States||Very high||None||None|
|Japan||Very high||None||Potential lack of key position size; split between JAFL and NAFL|
|South Africa||Very high||None||Large junior numbers still too young|
|Canada||Very high||None||Some potential Ontario-centric issues|
|Ireland||High||Local league not growing||A few gun Gaelic recruits could make a big difference|
|Denmark||High||No show in 2005||None|
|Britain||High||Upheaval in regional league||Upheaval in regional league|
|Samoa||Moderate||Player eligibility (many based in Australia)||Player eligibility|
|Sweden||Moderate||Game expanding but many clubs young; does a united national body exist?||None|
|Spain||Moderate||Does a united national body exist?||Madrid-centric squad or all-Spain?|
|Germany||Moderate||Small league, other development priorities||Rarely exposed to 18-a-side|
|Tonga||Moderate||Focus on juniors; recent national political problems||None|
|Nauru||Low||No show in 2005; tiny population||Tiny population|
|China||Low||Very early stages of development||None|
|France||Low||Early stages of development||None|
|India||Low||Very early stages of development||None|
|Argentina||Very low||Little contact with the footy world||None|
|Pakistan||Very low||Very early stages of development||None|
|Indonesia||Very low||Early stages of development||None|
|Croatia||Very low||Very early stages of development||None|
|Finland||Very low||Very early stages of development||None|
|Czech Republic||Very low||Very early stages of development||None|
|Austria||Very low||Very early stages of development||None|
1. This table is based on our experience and dealings with some of these nations, but is not to be considered a definitive list.
2. Attendance Issues refers to circumstances particular to that country which may make their attendance less likely, as opposed to the usual issues all nations face, i.e. player availability in an amateur sport and funding/costs of travel.
3. Performance Issues refers to circumstances particular to that country which may make their performance less than would be anticipated based purely on past form or the size of the sport in their nation.
4. Any countries not listed above are thought at this time to have insufficent locally developed players who would qualify for the tournament, as opposed to expatriate Australians, who are generally ineligible.
5. The AFL recognises only one body in each country and England, Scotland and Wales currently compete as Britain under the British Australian Rules Football League.
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