Hosts blast Project ‘d***heads’
RADIO host Gus Worland and Socceroos great Andy Harper have exploded at The Project panellists Waleed Aly and Peter Helliar this morning after jokes they made about the Socceroos' trip to Honduras for their World Cup qualifier.
Speaking on the Triple M Sydney Grill Team, Worland called the pair "d***heads" and said he can't believe anyone would watch the Channel 10 program.
Aly and Helliar sparked an international incident ahead of the first leg in San Pedro Sula on Saturday morning (AEDT) when they made jokes about the city being the former "murder capital of the world" in an interview with Aussie talisman Tim Cahill.
Aly asked Cahill if the Socceroos were sure they wanted to win in enemy territory given the city's reputation while Helliar suggested there are similarities between playing against Honduras and playing against "ISIS".
"Waleed and Peter Helliar - they're just disrespectful and they just don't understand it and they just don't get it," Worland said.
"Tim Cahill is trying his best to get himself sorted out to go to the second biggest sporting event in the world behind the Olympics, maybe even the number one event in the world. It's disrespectful to those countries, (it's) disrespectful to Syria who have gone through unbelievable hardship.
"And then to bring up ISIS - they're d***heads and that show just really p****s me off because they think they're so much cleverer than everyone else and that just proves it.
"They would have sat down and worked out these jokes knowing that Tim Cahill is not interested in playing these jokes. He's trying to get himself ready for the biggest game of his career.
"Those d***heads have got to pull their heads in.
"I just don't understand anyone understanding The Project or liking it."
'IT'S EMBARRASSING HEARING CHEAP JOKES LIKE THAT'
Former Socceroo Andy Harper is in Honduras on commentary duties and also criticised what he called a "media beat-up" about the safety issues in San Pedro Sula, laying the boot into The Project.
"I've been here a couple of times now to Honduras and to this city San Pedro Sula and I've loved every second of being here," Harper said on SEN Breakfast.
"There's been a lot spoken, there's been a lot reprinted here about the Australian press coverage. That chat apparently that took place on a program on Channel 10 didn't go down well here at all.
"To be honest it's a little bit embarrassing hearing cheap jokes like that being made.
"People here are sensitive about the social conditions. They're a very poor country in a very poor part of the world, they don't need to be told that, they don't need their nose being rubbed in it which is how they've felt.
"It's taken a little bit of smooth talking to guarantee them that not all of Australia really thinks like that - let's focus on the game."
HELLIAR RESPONDS TO HEAT
Peter Helliar clearly isn't too fazed by the extra attention he's receiving, making light of the situation when he appeared on Nova 96.9's Fitzy and Wippa on Thursday morning.
The host of new Channel 10 quiz show Cram was happy to poke more fun at Honduras even after the backlash to his and Aly's comments.
"I've probably received a couple of death threats but I have received more death threats from One Directioners over the years so all is relative," Helliar said.
"The Honduras version of Cram is on hold though. I just heard back, they're waiting to see how this settles.
"I hope they (Honduras) finish in the top two in the next couple of games against the Socceroos, I really do."
Helliar also joked about regularly holidaying to Honduras and said "they're a lovely people, it's a lovely country and I've got nothing but respect for the Hondurans".
HONDURAS WANTS TO 'KILL AUSSIES OFF'
Media commentators this week joined Honduras football president Jorge Salomon in condemning the two Network 10 stars over their comments, which have featured in Honduran media outlets.
Socceroos players, including Cahill, have been forced to address concerns from Honduras media about the lack of respect Australian media commentators have shown the nation that finished fourth in the CONCACAF zone's World Cup qualification.
The situation has been spiralling in Honduras to the point that star Honduran striker Antony Lozano declared his team will be aiming to "kill them off" when asked about the Socceroos this week.
The situation all began to get out of control when Aly appeared to suggest it's not safe to travel to Honduras and Helliar made his "ISIS" joke after making light of Australia defeating Syria in its most recent tie to advance to this stage of the qualification process.
Cahill was on the show to promote Channel 10's new broadcasting arrangement to screen A-League games, but - after Cahill starred in Australia's World Cup qualification play-off win against Syria - all the focus was on the Socceroos' tie against Honduras.
Here's how the interview went:
Carrie Bickmore: So, Honduras. Are you going to win?
Tim Cahill: It's a massive game. We're looking forward to it. It's going to be difficult. It's never going to be easy and we're excited.
Waleed Aly: I was very excited. I was so excited. I was going to get my tickets booked. I was going to fly over there. I decided to do some googling of Honduras and it turns out we're going to San Pedro Sula which apparently is - or once was - the murder capital of the world. So, anyway, good luck without me. Do you think it's a good idea that you win?
TC: It doesn't matter where we go for us. It doesn't matter. We're there to win and that's it. There's nothing holding us back now. We want to go to a fourth consecutive World Cup.
Peter Helliar: So you beat Syria. Now you're going to the murder capital of the world. If you win this, I think you play ISIS. But they're calling you the danger man? The coach is saying you're the danger man. They have to stop you.
TC: Well that's good because, firstly, I don't know if I'm going to get a game. I have to do well here (in the A-League). Get selected, stay fit. It's a big challenge. I'm excited for it. It doesn't matter where we play. There's a massive prize at the end of it.
The light-hearted comments have been branded disrespectful in Honduras.
Salomon even took the extraordinary step of calling a press conference to address reports in Australian media and showed a video of what he said is the "real" Honduras - a tourist's paradise.
"We are upset with some Australian media that have put the name of Honduras in bad, they have played with the name of our country, that has bothered us all and I think it is something we cannot allow," Salomon said according to Diario Mas.
"Everything that Australian media has published is false, that's why we want to show you through videos the real Honduras."
In October, National Honduran newspaper El Heraldo, based in the capital Tegucigalpa, reported that the country had been "mocked" by "two presenters of a famous Australian night show".
Written in Spanish, the newspaper went onto criticise Helliar for trying to make a joke about linking the murder rates of Honduras with the ongoing unrest in Syria.
The newspaper also criticised Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou's decision to make a light-hearted joke in an interview reported by Channel 9 about the logistical nightmare the team faces travelling to Honduras with all their equipment, coaches, support staff and security.
"Australians seem to have a lot of fun with the social problems of other countries," El Heraldo reported.
Cahill was forced to address the Honduran resentment towards the Australian press when he landed a day after teammates on Tuesday night (AEDT).
Ever the statesman, Cahill came with a message of respect - contrary to some sensational media reports of the country's security situation.
"As players, we respect the country and people, which is most important," he said.
"What media say is different to what players think.
"I'm happy here in Honduras.
"It is a country I already respect a lot but we want to get a good result in the match.
"I know Victor Bernardez as a player and he used to play for the national team. For (national team veteran Maynor) Figueroa too, we have the utmost respect.
"We're coming here to play football. It's about football and enjoying that occasion and us taking in the surroundings."
Locals have been unimpressed with Australian media reports painting the country as hostile or violent, with a particular distaste for the use of the "murder capital of the world" tag the city cannot shake.
HOW DANGEROUS IS SAN PEDRO SULA?
There's no disputing San Pedro Sula's horrific crime rate that until recently made it the world's most dangerous city. Honduras' second-biggest city has a homicide rate of 112 killings per 100,000 people.
By comparison, Australia's rate is one per 100,000.
But statistics only tell one side of the story; much of the violence is gang- related and confined to well-known no-go zones.
San Pedro Sula built up an unenviable reputation in the past as the most murderous city in Honduras - itself part of Central America's notorious Northern Triangle, along with Guatemala and El Salvador, where gang violence, drug trafficking, poverty and corruption are rife.
Five years ago, a Mexican NGO called the place the second most violent city in all of Latin America, after Juarez in Mexico.
But now, after four years of stepped-up military and police patrols and aggressive street crackdowns, things have improved, authorities insist.
When Australia face up to Honduras in the stadium, surrounded by barbed wire, there will be 1,200 police and soldiers deployed inside and outside the venue, police spokesman Jorge Rodriguez said.
A government policy to get tough on violence in San Pedro Sula has seen 2000 armed militarised police spread across four battalions set-up in the area - and it's made a massive difference, according to Santos Leonel Reyes, a guard at the government morgue which conducts autopsies of victims of violent deaths.
"It's calm now because there are patrols 24 hours a day in all the city - there are no more turf wars between the gangs," he said.
"There were an average of 24 bodies a day coming in here. Now there are three a week."
- with AAP, AFP