Socceroos urged to ditch nickname in startling truth bomb amid Asian Cup campaign

New research has revealed 'Socceroos' isn't nearly as impactful as 'Matildas', 'Diamonds' or 'Boomers'.

Graham Arnold and Socceroos players.
Graham Arnold and the Socceroos are preparing for the Asian Cup. Image: Getty

As the Socceroos embark on their quest for a second Asian Cup title in Qatar, the code's bosses have been urged to lose 'soccer' from the nickname to further cement the team's relationship with the sporting public. UK-based True North Research specialises in evaluating emotional connections to sports and sponsors and believes the Socceroos name is not only an outlier but is costing valuable support.

"Having team nicknames can make it easier for us to refer to the team simply and quickly," TNR founder Georgie Maynard told Yahoo Sport Australia. "An effective name can also help us develop an emotional connection to the team. Eventually people don’t view many of these teams as having nicknames - for example, the Diamonds, Boomers and Matildas are names that become inherent and act as mnemonics.

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"The Socceroos are a little bit different. The nickname is not a symbol, a ‘Socceroo’ does not exist, there is not an alternative positive image that we relate to, so it doesn’t have quite the impact that other nicknames do."

True North's Benchmark study has the data to back up its assertion. "The Socceroos have been included in our 11 waves of research conducted since 2018," Maynard explained. "What’s interesting about the nickname is it's based on sports followers' responses regarding why they do or do not feel connected to the team.

"One in four sports followers who do not feel positively connected to the Socceroos, mention ‘soccer’ in their explanation. The nickname is currently associated with negatives and is not doing enough to develop the connection.

"By contrast, ‘Australia’ is mentioned by those who have a bond (15 per cent). For all intents and purposes, the word 'soccer’ isn’t a positive to use in the nickname for the broader audience. I would be open, if I was FA (Football Australia), to do some more research into this area, with the potential to develop an even further reaching emotional connection to the team."

Socceroos players, pictured here at training.
Socceroos players at training ahead of the Asian Cup. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) (Robert Cianflone via Getty Images)

Should the Socceroos do away with the nickname?

The Socceroos nickname originated almost by accident in the late 1960s when a football journalist started using it in his articles. Other names were bandied around, including Emus, Wombats, Bandicoots and Koalas, but the Socceroos moniker stuck despite various attempts to kill it off.

In 2005, then Football Federation Australian boss John O'Neill hoped the nickname would die a natural death. "It's not something we're going to be belting people over the head about, but over time, we would hope that the national team will simply be called Australia," O'Neill said.

"It's not usual in the football world for the national team to have a nickname. We would like to see it changed, but we're not going to draw a line in the sand. We would simply hope people's habits evolve, and they get used to calling it Australia." Nearly two decades on - and five successive World Cup campaign later - it appears the Socceroos name is here to stay.

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