The Football Federation Australia (FFA) have paid tribute to broadcaster Les Murray, who has died at the age of 71 after an illness.
Murray has been hailed as an influential figure in the growing popularity of football in Australia after he joined SBS Television in 1980.
Born in Hungary with the name Lászó Ürge before his family migrated to Australia in 1957, Murray was viewed as a key broadcaster for the sport.
He was inducted into the FFA Hall of Fame in 2003 as well as being made a member of the Order of Australia in 2006.
The award recognised his services to football as a radio and television producer, journalist and presenter and through national and international football organisations.
“This is a very sad day for football,” said Steven Lowy, FFA chairman.
“Few people become synonymous with their sport, but Les was one of those few.
“He made an immense contribution to football in Australia through his professional work but above all through his passion, he literally brought the game to millions and connected us to the biggest sport in the world.
“I’ve been seeing his face and hearing his voice since I was a teenager and I am sure I speak for many when I say that football is not going to be quite the same without him around.”
The FFA have extended their condolences to Murray’s partner Maria and his daughters Tania and Natalie.
The organisation claimed Murray had helped to make football accessible to many people who were new to the game.
Murray also served as a member of FIFA’s Ethics Committee from 2003 and 2013, but was critical of the work done by the body.
He was critical of the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup bid process, with the tournaments eventually awarded to Russia and Qatar respectively.
In 2014, he alleged he had reported a executive committee member during the process after they asked for “hard cash” to gain votes, with Murray stating no action was ultimately taken.
Michael Garcia's report into potential wrongdoing in the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bid process, which was published in June, claimed Murray had leaked confidential information to consultant Peter Hargitay.
Hargitay was working on Australia’s unsuccessful bid the for 2022 World Cup at the time.
Murray had been a critic of FIFA and had previously called for Qatar to be stripped of the 2022 tournament.
SBS, who Murray presented six World Cups for during his career, paid tribute to the broadcaster, dubbed “Mr Football”.
“No one better embodied what SBS represents than Les Murray,” said Michael Ebeid, SBS managing director.
“From humble refugee origins, he became one of Australia’s most recognised and loved sporting identities.
“Not just a football icon, but a great Australian story and an inspiration to many, to say that his contribution to SBS and to football was enormous, doesn’t do it justice.
“This is a devastating loss for all of us at SBS.”
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed Murray will be given a state funeral.