Australian tennis great Pat Cash has taken a swipe at football on the eve of the World Cup by directing his Twitter followers towards Australian Rules — a “real man’s sport”.
The former Wimbledon champion sparked criticism with his comment as he posted a highlights package of Aussie Rules hero Shaun “Silk” Burgone, suggesting the country’s most popular spectator sport was tougher than soccer.
“#worldcup approaches here some highlights from one of the #greatest in a real man’s sport #afl,” Cash tweeted.
“They don’t call him “SILK” for nothing. (No rolling around on the ground trying to cheat a free kick from this man).”
Burgoyne, considered one of the greatest players in modern Australian Rules, a game similar to Gaelic football, lines up for his 350th game this weekend.
Dozens of soccer supporters where outraged by Cash’s comment, which came as Australia prepare to open their World Cup campaign against France on Saturday.
“As someone who had the support of a nation when you won Wimbledon, I find it offensive that you would mock football and, by extension OUR Socceroos,” tweeted Ray Gatt, chief football writer for the Australian newspaper.
“Shouldn’t you, as a proud Australian, actually support OUR national team?”
Others also took aim at Cash, who was known during his heyday for a signature headband.
“(Poor) effort at trying to find relevance in a country that has mostly forgotten you Pat,” tweeted Manfred Von Gonagall.
“A ‘real man’s sport’ like tennis? Funny that, as historically tennis has been seen as the sport kids play when they can’t handle contact sport. Anything to stay relevant though, hey @TheRealPatCash,” added Tom Duffy.
Stevo tweeted: “Think your headband is too tight.”
However, some social media users acknowledged that football had its flaws.
“I love the world game as much as anybody — but let’s face it, there WILL be cheating. There will be feigning, rolling around, writhing in pain, as if their legs had been kicked off. That’s football,” wrote Big Darrell.