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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3294

Mr STEWART - I thank the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street), both Victorians, for having agreed to my being given leave to make this statement. I realise that they are both Australian rules supporters. I desire to offer congratulations to our Australian soccer team. For the first time in the long history of Australian soccer we have qualified for the World Cup finals to be held in West Germany next June and July. I am certain that when those finals are held there will be many Australians in West Germany barracking for our Australian soccer team.

I should like the House to join with me in congratulating all those who had a hand in this success, particularly the players led by their captain Peter Wilson, the coach, Rale Rasic, the manager, John Barclay and the President of the Australian Soccer Federation,

Sir ArthurGeorge. I am sure Australia is proud of this splendid team which so clearly emphasised the multi-national character of our country. Not all the players were born in Australia but all of them played their hearts but for their country in exactly the same way. This was yet another victory for the integrating power of our land. The soccer World Cup rivals the Olympic Games in global importance and exceeds it in television following. Some 90 countries start off on the long road towards the Cup and only the elite 16 reach the final series. To underline Australia's achievements, I mention that countries with great soccer traditions such as England, Russia and Hungary were eliminated from the finals.

Australia goes to the finals next year as the world representative of the entire Asian and Oceania region, having conquered all the teams in our path. Perhaps some of our Asian friends in the hour of our triumph are bitterly disappointed, but I should like to extend, particularly to Korea, whose team we beat yesterday evening in Hong Kong, our congratulations on their magnificent fight. In Australia the Korean team held us to a nil-all draw. In Seoul they held us to a 2-all tie, and last night they were defeated by only one to nil. I am sure that Australia will represent the Asian region next year with dignity and, hopefully, with a measure of success. Australians have been eminently successful in scores of sports in the past. The world has come to respect and admire our champions. I am delighted that soccer can now be added to their list. I offer the congratulations of the Parliament to the team.

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