Saturday, October 16, 2010


Straight Race

When FIFA gave a strong indication that it wanted the 2018 World Cup to go to Europe, the FFA got the hint and concentrated all their efforts on 2022. It has taken the USA much longer to get the message, and their delay in shifting their strategy could certainly be seen as an admission that they may yet lose out on 2022, despite their current status as favourites.

Indeed, those in the Australian football community who have dismissed the 2022 bid in keeping with the general pessimism of the times could well be proven wrong. It seems to be firming as a straight race between the USA and ourselves: despite Qatar's eye-popping technological promises, the idea of a World Cup in such a small country (which has never qualified for the event before) is hard to countenance seriously. Japan and South Korea have already had their chance, and are unlikely to be given another one so (relatively) soon afterwards. In short, Australia is in with a much better chance than many are giving them credit for.

However much the FFA have been doing wrong over the last couple of years, there has certainly been some very smart manoeuvring over the 2022 bid. Whether such tactics have crossed the ethical fault line is another matter, but no World Cup host gets the rights without a bit of sharp practice these days...well, except if they have an iconic octogenarian who long qualified for secular sainthood to give their bid stupendous moral force.

Strangely, the questions in the media over the role (and remuneration) of Messrs. Hargitay and Radmann, the former in particular, have quietened down over the past few months. Even the latest Hargitay stunt, a sly diversion of public moneys to feather the nests of some Jack Warner cronies in the Caribbean, barely raised an eyebrow. The sight of heads of state fawning over such a shameless rogue as Warner over the last few years has been disgusting, but such is the power of FIFA...and the World Cup.

During my own stint working for that august body in 2008, I was able to observe at close range how deadly serious Frank Lowy was about getting the World Cup for his adopted country. Lowy may have been guilty of bad faith and misjudgements during his time at the FFA helm, particularly in the last couple of years, but his determination to secure a World Cup for Australia is absolutely genuine. And so far, he has played every card available to him.

Let us hope it will be enough...because if the 2022 bid fails, Australian football could be in real trouble.

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Mikey, could you explain why you think not getting the WC in '22 would be such a disaster? On the contrary, it could divert resources on a much larger scale than the bid has.

There's plenty of interest in the game in the country, but it's not exploited. Hosting a cup could increase interest, but if it still can't be exploited because, you know, there's the slight matter of a World Cup to host then what's the point?

Besides, the four-yearly comp itself (especially with the Socceroos in it) should provoke interest similarly and I don't think we saw much of that over the last few months.
...Mikey, could you explain why you think not getting the WC in '22 would be such a disaster?...

I think you only have to look at crowds in the HAL this season to realise why. I do understand your point about resources being diverted elsewhere as a result, but IMO the momentum has been lost with the HAL already.
G'day again Mike
A quickie on Qatar's claim for 2022. Not sure if I've mentioned on this post before, but their submission will be the only WC nomination to miss out 'cos of grog. OK, it'll only be about 40 degrees + outside - despite games being possibly played undergroind or in air-conditioned stadiums. Bu for the supporters wanting to have a couple of coldies, they've got Buckley's (no pun). Having lived in Dubai for 3 yrs and travelled regularly to Qatar,I can reliably inform one and all that alcohol can only be purchased at a hotel, at not terribly cheap prices.
Can we really imagine a Green and Gold Army or Fanatics tour, not being able to have a beer in the streets or restauranta etc - let alone the Germans and our kind friends the poms.
On a somewhat weird note, could be the best behaved, supporter wise - but fun-wise, nope. Dan
G'day danunder,

Yeah, think that's one of the big minus marks against the Qatar bid. TBH I could never really take it seriously anyway...such a small country hosting the WC?!?

Nope, only two really in the hunt for 2022 IMO.
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