Do we actually want the World Cup?
In a little under two weeks, at 2am on December 3, FIFA will announce the nations that will host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups and hopefully all of Frank Lowy’s work will come to fruition.
But I know not everyone feels the same way. It seems Australia is split on the possibility of the world’s biggest sporting event making its way Down Under.
The majority are behind it and would love to have another international showcase, but there are two other camps – those crossing their fingers that Australia doesn’t win, and those simply shrugging their shoulders and saying, “Meh.”
The World Cup in Australia would be undeniably bloody brilliant, an event the entire nation could share in, not just one city as with the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games. It would show off the best of every region of the country and bring hundreds of thousands of cashed-up tourists into corners that often lose out to the big metro centres.
It also would herald a $2.8 billion national stadium redevelopment program that would leave lasting legacy for all the sporting codes, not just soccer. Critics usually try to pull apart the financial benefits of hosting such big events but given the strength of our economy right now, we’re perfectly placed to invest in this long–term goal.
Take into account that the 2003 rugby World Cup brought in $289m to the economy, creating an additional 4476 jobs – and that tournament’s nowhere near the size of the football World Cup.
Against us is the might of the USA, the money of Qatar and the recent corruption scandal that led to the suspension of Oceania chief Reynald Temarii, seen as a sure vote for Australia. Heavily armed foes but by no means insurmountable.
In our favour, though, is FIFA’s preference for emerging markets, and the recent evaluation of our bid as “an experienced event delivery partner, a safe pair of hands and a fun, relaxed, safe and secure destination within a region that will be the world’s commercial nucleus in 2022.”
So who doesn’t want it and why? The AFL and the NRL don’t really want it because they’re scared of how it will alter the balance of power among the codes; they’re used to be the big fish in a small pond and want to keep it that way. Bugger the economic good it will do the nation and fact they’ll get all their creaking grounds done up for them. It was only the intervention of the Federal Government that finally got Football Federation Australia’s bid book in on time.
And still some people don’t want it; not interested, too expensive, we’re not a soccer nation, it’ll interrupt the AFL/NRL season… Seriously, how short-sighted can you be?
The December 2 decision could bring massive, positive changes to Australia and give us 12 years to save for a windfall payout. Never mind the fact we wouldn’t have to get up at 3am in the winter, or having the chance to see the Socceroos smash the Poms at the MCG. Get on board and get excited – the world could be coming.
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