Perth skipper Jacon Burns opens up on his experience of the dark side of professional sport, and Glory's disappointing season.
As football in Australia has been able to rise above the recent scandals in the international game and other Australian codes, Perth Glory captain Jacob Burns says his own experiences how shown him how the dark side of sport operates.
Burns spent three seasons playing in Romania and saw just what blight match-fixing is on football.
“As far as match-fixing goes I have had the opportunity to play in Eastern Europe. I was in Poland where there was a huge investigation into it and a lot of people faced some very serious sentences and time for match-fixing,” Burns tells footballaustralia.com.au.
“I have never seen it one to one and personal though or been approached.
“Was it going on during the time that I was there?
“Referees were being paid, I believe, and players, whether I played alongside them or against them it probably would have happened, which is a real shame.
“I think as a kid you dream of giving it all for your team, and the jersey. And to think that collectively you-re not all on the same page… with people deliberately not scoring goals and referees being paid money to influence decisions it-s obviously not right.
“When I think back there were some games that were very questionable with decisions made, penalties given, very dubious decisions that it must have been going on.
“So have I experienced that kind of stuff first hand? Yeah. Do I think that should be ironed out? Absolutely.”
The recent investigation of performance-enhancing drugs has also cast a shadow over Australian sport but while Burns says he fails see how football players could benefit from them, although he is adamant that if anyone had dabbled, the penalties in any sport should be harsh and swift.
“First of all there is no place for it. Being an Aussie I think we are quite a fair nation and we want fair and level playing ground across all sporting codes, and I don-t think we would be very forgiving if these findings come out and players are looking for that edge,” Burns said.
“In the 20 years I have been a professional footballer I have never seen any of it. I can-t even fathom the need for it in such a highly skilled game.
"There is a lot of decision-making and too many outside variables; to be looking for an edge whether it be some of the things that have been mentioned I just can-t see the point of it.
“The sooner that people are named the better it is for all the codes. They have identified all these things, now they need to back that up with naming names and bringing these people out in the open and squashing it as quickly as possible. There is no room for it.”
Perth Glory-s performances, however, have been dire need of enhancement. Having been stuck on the sidelines with a back injury that has seen a shift in his lower back between the L4 and L5 vertebra disrupt a disc, Burns has been left frustrated as his team have slipped down the ladder.
Glory haven-t won a game in 2013 and with Burns still stuck on the sidelines, the tough skipper has had to watch, frustrated on the sidelines as the club has hit a low ebb that culminated in the sacking of Ian Ferguson.
Burns, not the best spectator at the best of times, might just have to watch a bit longer, the skipper unsure when he will return from the back injury.
“It-s the first back issue I have had and I hope it-s the last,” Burns says.
“I have had some injections, I am a week post the second injection and I am still feeling it a little so it-s a matter of being very cautious in our approach, making sure I don-t push too hard too soon and go backwards, with these back and disc issues it-s important to make sure you are pain free when you go back into the full demands of training.
“You want to be fighting for the cause and it-s a difficult time for the club where we are sitting, but I have to be smart about it, if it-s a week or a couple it-s important I play some sort of football, there is still a lot to play for, I am very mindful of that and my plan is to be fit soon and push this team towards finals.”
So where does pushing for the finals start? According to Burns, with a win over the high-flying Mariners this weekend, and the skipper believes there is enough time for the Glory to still cover themselves in some… well, glory.
“I always say you judge a team on where they finish. Football is a roller-coaster, there are ups and downs. We are at a low point at this time, I can see where everyone is,”
“Going on last year, we take on confidence on that it was up and down, in January we weren-t where we wanted to be then had a great run of games and almost won the whole thing. Seasons have turning points, you have to have that belief that this is it, this is where we start our run and I believe this is a turning point.”