Steven Holloway is the football writer for the NZ Herald.

Football: Andy Martin backs Hudson's outburst

All Whites Coach Anthony Hudson and Football CEO Andy Martin talk with media. Photo / Greg Bowker.
All Whites Coach Anthony Hudson and Football CEO Andy Martin talk with media. Photo / Greg Bowker.

New Zealand Football CEO Andy Martin has stood behind All Whites coach Anthony Hudson's comments about the worrying state of football in New Zealand.

Hudson labelled New Zealand's football culture "soft", criticised the attitude of some youth players and said it would be "impossible" to build a squad capable of qualifying for the World Cup unless the All Whites got more fixtures.

Martin, who today returned from holiday, said he was unaware that Hudson had planned to go public with his concerns last weekend, but said the All Whites coach was "on message" with his frustrations.

"I was a bit surprised by some of the negative reaction," Martin said. "There's been a lot of noise about something that we have said several times. I know there are a lot of passionate people in this country but we need to all work together to embrace the reality to affect the change."

The reality, according to Martin, is that New Zealand Football is under resourced and more funding is required to give Hudson and the All Whites more games.

"I share his comments in that we want more games, we want to play in every window, we want to deliver a programme to the players that is as extensive as possible, but right now we can't deliver that with the resources we have available. Right now we're trying to do something about it.

"The way we change this is by bringing more funding into the game. There's no silver bullet other than that. That's what we set out to do 12 months ago and that's what we've been working hard to do, to convince government and others that there is something wider here than just what we are doing today."

Martin said the All Whites were close to securing an international match for the vacant March window but it "fell over last minute".

"We were offered a neutral venue in Europe, two games and quoted something like $500,000. That's massively outside of our reach. We normally spend about $200,000 on a game. That sort of thing is just unrealistic.

"I'd love to say we had a fixture lined up for March already, but we haven't, and the guys are still working hard to make it work.

"We know for a fact we have the OFC Nations Cup, there will be five games there, we're waiting for the World Cup qualification process to be confirmed but we understand we will have a game in November, home and away, and then we're looking at March and October for fixtures."

Hudson came out swinging on Sunday, labeling many of New Zealand's age group players as 'delusional' due to their poor attitudes and work ethic.

"For Anthony coming out and saying the players need a reality check is exactly the right thing to do," said Martin.

"There aren't many countries in the world where the players take a break over Christmas to the extent that we do here. We have to bridge that gap somehow. Certainly players who want to perform on the world stage are not stopping over Christmas, and are making the sacrifices and are realising what it takes to make it.

"My personal view is that football shouldn't stop over Christmas. It's something that we have factored into our reviews and we are mindful of.

"We're probably driving everyone else mad because we want to get there quicker, better faster than ever before and we want to do it in a way that is culturally acceptable. But similarly it's not just being acceptable to the culture we want to change it, and that's why we're here."

-More to come.

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