The Socceroos camp closed ranks around embattled Australia captain Lucas Neill in the wake of broadcaster Les Murray’s bombshell revelation.
Neill and the Socceroos became embroiled in controversy when Les Murray recounted, on national radio, an excerpt from his book, The World Game: The story of how football went global, in which he alleged Neill had instructed the team to disobey coach Pim Verbeek’s instructions before the devastating 4-0 loss to Germany in the opening match of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
The Neill camp indicated the veteran defender was furious and that his advisers were weighing up legal options.
Several close to the Socceroos camp in South Africa defended the captain and denied Murray’s allegations.
Backing up comments from the now retired Craig Moore, who described the allegations as “completely and totally false . . . 100 per cent”, many said they were shocked Neill had been targeted.
“Not a chance mate; it never happened,” one source, who did not want to be named, messaged.
“I don’t know where the story is coming from.”
Another said he had not seen or heard anything. “Are they serious? It’s news to me,” he said.
“It is plain wrong. I saw Moorey’s (Craig Moore) comments this morning and he is absolutely right.”
Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley dismissed claims of a mutiny.
“No one involved with the Socceroos in South Africa can recall any incident with the slightest resemblance to what has been described in today’s press,” he said.
However, Murray stuck to his story about the fallout between Verbeek and the Socceroos.
“My sources are ones I consider reliable,” Murray said.
When pressed on whether the leaks came from members of Verbeek’s Socceroos squad, Murray replied: “I can’t say and I won’t reveal my sources.”
When asked if he feared possible legal action being taken against him and the book publisher Hardie Grant by Neil, Murray said, “I’m not worried. I’m perfectly confident about my sources and what those sources told me. I stand by what I said and what I believe is the truth.
“This came up when I was writing the book and I dedicated part of that chapter to try to analyse what went wrong in South Africa, and what went wrong in particular in that match against Germany.
“What I was trying to illustrate was that there was a cultural disconnect between the coach and the players and this (dressing room) incident embodied that disconnect.”
by Buford Balony