TODAY (Monday, June 12) in Germany, Australia faces off against Japan in what will surely be a hard-fought close battle over high stakes and national pride.

  On Friday in the Caribbean island of St Kitts, Australia and Japan will again test each other’s mettle in another emotion-charged contest for valued spoils.

  But unlike tonight’s meet on the green pitch of the World Cup, Friday’s biff will take place on the stark conference floor of the International Whaling Commission.

  And what a golden opportunity the Government has lost in not realising that the two events are undeniably linked.

  For the past few days I have somewhat cheekily been encouraging Federal Environment Minister Ian Campbell to send his best wishes to the Socceroos camped out in Oehringen, Germany and urge them to kick a goal for the whales during tonight’s match.

  I recently accompanied the Minister on his whirlwind tour of the Pacific where he found little support for his anti-whaling campaign ahead of this weekend’s IWC conference.

  But surely the Socceroos would not reject him as swiftly as did our Pacific neighbours?

  Guus Hiddink would be the first to acknowledge that tonight’s match is about nothing if it’s not about the whales.

  No doubt after listening to the Minister, Hiddink would order his troops to mix it up for the minke and head one in for the humpback — “win it for the whales” would be the team’s motto if only Senator Campbell would make the call.

  Even better, the Environment Minister could have sent an urgent delivery to the Socceroos in Germany of a “save our whales” wristband for every team member to wear during the match.

  FIFA authorities would have gladly bent the rules to allow the Australian team to wear the latest fad in honour of such a worthy cause.

  Japanese sporting commentators would be left with the task of explaining to their audiences at home just why Viduka, Kewell and the gang were wearing the wristbands.

  Campbell distributed the stylish rubber accessories right around the Pacific last week, but it seems he thinks the Socceroos aren’t worthy of them.

  Apparently, he thinks sport and politics shouldn’t be mixed.

  Where’s your commitment Minister? Where’s your commitment?

By Chris Johnson, in Canberra

  Campbell distributed the stylish rubber accessories right around the Pacific last week, but it seems he thinks the Socceroos aren’t worthy of them.  Apparently, he thinks sport and politics shouldn’t be mixed.