Former Socceroo Craig Foster
Former Socceroo Craig Foster

Foster defends Arnold comments


LISMORE soccer legend Craig Foster has brushed off a public attack from former Socceroos team-mate Robbie Slater, standing by his criticism of Australian coach Graham Arnold.

Foster blasted Arnold in a column written for the Sydney media following the Socceroos' poor performance at the Asian Cup, saying he was clearly not up to the job.

This month Slater launched a scathing attack on Foster in a sports magazine over Foster's comments.

"He (Foster) was completely out of order. Football fans in this country shouldn't talk to him," Slater said.

"It was personal, ill-informed and an absolute disgrace. "And it came from a guy who thinks he's something he's not. "Every footballer, and everyone I've spoken to, didn't like it.

"It was a horrible article and Craig should be ashamed of himself to have written those words. I was disgusted."

But Foster refused to back down, saying Australia deserved a better coach.

"We have a different view of almost everything in football," Foster told The Northern Star.

"He (Slater) simply believed Arnold was a good national coach. I thought he was way off the mark. "I believe the national coach has to be held to the highest standard.

"The Asian Cup was nothing short of a debacle, and in saying so I fully expected others to take offence." But Foster said the comments were not made just to be controversial.

"My views are well known," he said. "In this country, if you have strong views about football, you are often going to come up against the established view.

"Essentially, Robbie believes Australian coaches are as good as anywhere in the world.

"I believe that is an untruth, and to protect Aussie coaches is doing them a disservice, and we should put our hands up and admit we are off the pace in player and coach development and get to work to improve development for a new generation.

"He represents the head-in-the-sand theory, the 'everything's fine, let's do nothing' approach."

Foster said he felt it was his duty to play devil's advocate and challenge accepted, out-dated ideas.

"Almost every week on SBS I will say something or give a view which runs contrary to the established view in this country," he said.

"I put myself in the position willingly where a large part of what I say is the opposite of what people like Robbie believe.

"I will say what I believe is in the best interest of the game and I try to do so without fear or favour and I believe that's what the game needs.

"It needs honesty and transparency and needs to be challenged constantly ... and I include those running the game, Football Federation Australia, and coaches."

"It doesn't concern me what position I play. "I have a job to do and I will do it."

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