Michael O'Keeffe: Football Federation Australia puts players at risk for broadcasting money

OPINION: Football Federation Australia might be the most delusional organisation during this entire coronavirus outbreak.

More than the Warehouse, who believed it was an essential service.

More than the International Olympic Committe, who thought it could still hold a fair Summer Games in Tokyo.

And more than the NRL, who thought there was no Australia without rugby league.

Why? Because it still stands behind its decision to suspend its premier competition as late as it did, despite two members of their competition contracting COVID-19. The Phoenix staff member is understood to have contracted the virus while in Australia.

The A-League was the final Australian professional competition to suspend play.

The AFL led the way, reacting to the Australian Government’s ban on all non-essential travel, and subsequent border closures of South and Western Australia.

The NRL went next, taking the advice of its pandemic and biosecurity experts, and also the Queensland border closure to suspend its league.

The A-League was the final domino to fall, making the announcement on Tuesday, March 24.

But FFA chief executive James Johnson claimed they didn’t come to the decision for health reasons.

In fact, if those state border restrictions weren’t implemented, the A-League would likely have continued.

We can only thank those state governments now, because who knows how many more players, staff members and their families could have been put in danger, if those states hadn’t closed their borders.

Throughout this ordeal, FFA said it put the player health and safety first.

But uplifting a team from a city (Wellington) that, at the time, had one confirmed case of coronavirus and relocating them to a state that had more than 300 is not putting player health and safety first. That's just irresponsible.

They’ll say the players made the choice themselves - but did they really? That’s hard to imagine.

Some other agenda is clearly at play here. Maybe the fact clubs might not receive their final quarterly payment of AU$900,000 from the league broadcaster?

The prospect of not getting paid would certainly make me want to play.

The FFA owes it to fans and the families it has put at risk to come clean.

Michael O'Keeffe is a Newshub sports reporter.