All Whites cop criticism for breakfast mixup

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 17/11/2012

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New Zealand Football chief executive Grant McKavanagh is neither apologetic nor embarrassed about an All Whites no-show at an expats' breakfast in China.

McKavanagh's boys have copped a bit of a pasting, from one bloke in particular, after no team member attended a function in Shanghai on Thursday.

The New Zealand team had drawn 1-1 with China the night before, in an international football friendly.

But it wasn't their performance on the pitch that New Zealander Howard Moore was interested in. He took to Facebook to register his disappointment that no All Whites pitched up for a breakfast organised by expat group Kea.

"Great to see the All Whites vs China last night here in Shanghai," Moore wrote. "The All Whites probably deserved to win based on their second-half performance but it probably didn't really matter. But the All Whites' efforts were obliterated by their failure to turn up the next morning at a Kea breakfast function to which many kids came along expecting to see the All Whites as advertised.

"The reality was they went out to the M1ntBar nightclub and couldn't make the effort to turn up for this breakfast. The All Whites were paid by Mfat to play in this game and, as ambassadors for New Zealand, should have been able to muster some of their team to turn up.

"New Zealand Soccer is never going to win the hearts and minds of the New Zealand population if this is the attitude they are going to take. Everyone of course is making comparisons with the All Blacks. They would have turned up with some of their number."

McKavanagh knew all about Moore's comments by yesterday afternoon and largely dismissed them.

"The first thing to say is it's a misunderstanding," said McKavanagh, who was in Shanghai with the team.

Team management had been informed of the request to attend the breakfast, McKavanagh said, and had indicated to the organisers that the players probably would not be available.

"The players weren't even made aware of the offer, so it's a bit harsh to be commenting on them and their behaviour," he said.

"We had players flying out at eight o'clock in the morning, so they were getting up at 5am to get to the airport."

Knowing it wouldn't be possible for the players to meet their fans at the function, McKavanagh said attempts were made to organise an autograph session on the eve of the match.

"We would've thought that was great but, unfortunately, protocols are different with different organisations and countries. It's not that easy to get into the stadium and to get in and do that signing," he said.

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The chief executive coughed and spluttered a bit at Moore's assertion that the All Blacks would've fronted up.

"Oh look, I, I've really got no comment about that, to be honest with you."

As for the All Whites apparently visiting a nightclub after the match, McKavanagh didn't feel that was especially noteworthy.

"Basically, after a game, we let the players run their course. We don't normally have events organised after that."

NZF chairman Frank van Hattum did attend the breakfast function, and signed memorabilia was also distributed to the fans, McKavanagh said.

China-based All Whites striker Chris Killen will also do some work with Kea "going forward".

- The Dominion Post

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