Arthur George, the longest-serving president of the former Australian Soccer Federation, has passed away at the age of 98.
George, knighted in 1972 for his services to the Greek Australian community, was born in Sydney as Athanasios Theodore Tzortzatos, but as was common in the era he anglicised his name as he forged a career as a solicitor and later a property developer.
While renowned for his generosity towards a number of charitable causes, it was his stewardship of football at a time when it was transitioning towards becoming a mainstream sport which was arguably his best known legacy.
George, knighted in 1972 for his services to the Greek Australian community, was a key figure as soccer transitioned towards becoming a mainstream sport in the 1960s and 70s.
He was president of the ASF between 1969 and 1988, a period highlighted by Australia’s first appearance at the World Cup finals in 1974 and the subsequent formation of the National Soccer League (1977).
The NSL became the first national sporting competition in the country.
During much of his tenure at the ASF, George also served on the FIFA executive, the first Australian to do so.
FIFA later awarded him the Gold Order of Merit, the world body’s highest honour.
He was also a long-serving member of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) and, despite making three failed attempts to change Australia’s membership from the OFC to the Asian Football Confederation, he ultimately became a life president of Oceania.
The Chairman of Football Federation Australia, Frank Lowy, acknowledged George’s years of service to Australian football.
The funeral will be held at St George Greek Orthodox Church, Newcastle Street, Rose Bay, next Tuesday.
(source: sbs, AAP)