David Gallop used his first appearance as Football Federation Australia boss to send a warning to rival codes that football is coming.
The former NRL boss, who revealed he was a passionate West Brom fan and a keen football follower, spoke with genuine excitement about the inroads the round ball game could make against rugby league and AFL.
“If football gets its act together, which we’re seeing right now, then the other codes need to be really worried about it,” Gallop said.
“The strengths are there to see over the last six weeks (in the A-League) … people love the game and the atmosphere at the grounds, both at the ground and if you’re watching on television, is unique in Australian sport.
“It’s part of the reason that Australians want football to do well in this country because they recognise that it’s the world game.”
Gallop admitted he was a ‘closet’ football supporter during his time at the NRL and had to contain his excitement the night Australia qualified for the 2006 World Cup.
After 10 years as the boss of a sport with little international traction, the 47-year-old is excited to be joining a code with global appeal.
“I remember in 2005 I was at Homebush Bay when John Aloisi kicked us into the World Cup finals,” Gallop recalled.
“I remember jumping up then sitting down very quickly. With my rugby league hat on I thought ‘uh-oh, this could be bad – the sleeping giant just got a giant prod’.
“The giant continues to be not only awake, but on the move. The stats around participation, crowds and TV ratings are hugely impressive.
“No other sport can put us so clearly on the world stage like the Socceroos.
“Football is the biggest game on the planet and we want to be part of it as a world class football nation.”
Gallop said a new TV deal for football was ‘just around a corner’ but declined to comment on the NRL’s five-month search to find his successor.