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FIFA World Cup decision - much ado about nothing

  • Friday, December 03 2010 @ 04:11 am ACDT
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General News After years of debate as to whether winning the FIFA soccer World Cup would damage Australian football in Australia, diverting funding, attention and prestige, the issue has been instantly rendered null and void until at least 2026 (or longer if the bidding rules remain the same). FIFA delegates gathered in Zurich to cast their votes for 2018 and 2022 and the winners were Russia and Qatar. Neither bid was widely considered kindly, although Qatar was a favourite amongst some betting agencies, but at the end of the day the voting is not necessarily about which bid is best for the sport, rather it is about convincing a small group of generally elderly men who possibly have a diverse set of motivations.

It will be interesting to see if the anti-AFL recriminations begin, with the AFL blamed for delays in securing stadia agreements, and also whether there is a knee-jerk government reaction declaring that Australia will immediately bid again for 2026. With the giant China looming, if they wish to host in 2026 then that could block out Australia for the next 30 years, depending on the ever changing FIFA rules. As pointed out to this author in comments below, current rules prevent the same region hosting in the next 2 periods (I knew that) and Qatar is in the Asian confederation (I didn't know that). So perhaps 2034 is the earliest, and if China got that, then 2046.

Perhaps Australian football would have managed to showcase Aussie Rules to the world during a hosted soccer World Cup, but rather than an opportunity lost one can't help but to think that a far greater risk to the sport has been averted. Let's hope the recriminations are not too strong and for our part, those that were not keen on Australia hosting soccer's biggest event need to moderate our relief, being sensitive to the many Australians who had their heart set on a different outcome.