The longest-serving president of the former Australian Soccer Federation (ASF), Sir Arthur George has passed away at the age of 98.
Born Athanasios Theodore Tzortzatos, Sir George left a longstanding legacy in the Australian sporting world and the Greek community.
Sir George became the godfather of Australian soccer, helping the sport transition into mainstream popularity, making it a national and much loved game.
He was president of the ASF between 1969 and 1988, a period highlighted by Australia’s first ever appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals in 1974, and the subsequent formation of the National Soccer League in 1977.
The NSL became the first national sporting competition in the country.
Known for his fiery but determined personality, Sir George had many confrontations with officials, coaches and the media.
During his career, George was heralded with implementing far reaching reforms for the developing sporting authority.
The ASF established the first coaching education scheme in Australian sport, a visionary step in 1975 to bring football into classrooms and introduce grass roots levels.
During his time, Sir George became the first Australian to sit on the FIFA board and staged a hugely-successful Gold Cup tournament including then world champion Argentina and powerhouse Brazil to mark the nation’s Bicentenary in 1988.
Trained as a laywer, Sir George became a notable figure in the Sydney Greek community, and was knighted for his contributions.
Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy, AC, acknowledged his years of service to Australian football.
“Sir Arthur served for almost 20 years at the head of the ASF and was single-minded in his pursuit of what he identified as the game’s best interests,” said Lowy.
“He fought for the game and presided over many great achievements, including Australia’s first ever qualification for the FIFA World Cup in 1974.
“On behalf of the football community, I send my condolences to the family.”
The funeral was held at St George Greek Orthodox Church in Rose Bay on Tuesday.