5.3 billion reasons the World Cup would be good for us
Like many Australians of my generation and background, there was hardly a weekend when my dad wasn’t taking me to a football ground. In fact, Sunday meant Sunday School and soccer and the opportunity to catch up with all the people who spoke the same sporting language.
Football clubs were the centrepiece of the social life of many migrant and refugee communities and many clubs became some of the great nurseries of football talent over subsequent years.
Since then, football’s popularity has grown across Australia and has expanded from the weekend ritual of migrant families to become the most popular sport for Aussie boys and, increasingly, girls. Its rising prominence in Australian culture comes at a time when the country is bidding for the FIFA World Cup to come here in either 2018 or 2022.
This is a big deal for our country. It’s bigger than anything we’ve seen before.
For those with memories of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and just how good it felt to be in in the Harbour City at the time, the FIFA World Cup would be 10 times bigger and truly national.
PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Monash University estimated around 1 million overseas visitors, 74,000 jobs and a $5.3 billion economic windfall. Based on 2006 data from the FIFA World Cup in Germany - when there were 26.2 billion television viewers on a cumulative basis - it is also estimated that by 2018, around 900 million people from 214 countries could be expected to tune in just to watch the final. In 2010, the cumulative worldwide television viewers are tipped to reach 40 billion, with the most viewers coming from Asia.
Being the country name on everyone’s lips for the best part of five weeks is the type of exposure that is priceless for Australia.
But can we really get it here? To borrow a phrase, yes we can.
South Africa did for 2010 and Brazil did for the 2014 World Cup. Those decisions show that FIFA uses the competition to drive the growth and development of the sport and bring it to new parts of the globe.
Australia is also a part of a new frontier for football – that of Asia, as well as our neighbours to the east in Oceania. We’re also the only continent never to have hosted it.
Put together the large number of existing television viewers from Asia here in our time zone, the potential for that to grow even more over the coming decade or so, Australia’s unquestioned experience and expertise in hosting major events, our attractiveness as a tourist destination and the diversity of our multiculturalism, and Australia has a compelling case to put to FIFA on 1 December next year.
Of course, vital to our success is the nation getting behind our bid and showing off the wonderful Aussie spirit that the country is well known for.
The entire sporting community stands to benefit from the investment in infrastructure all around the country, from the MCG to Suncorp Stadium.
The competition for 2018/2022 is fierce and to get it here we’ve got to beat an impressive line up of countries comprising the USA, England, Russia, Spain/Portgual, Belgium/Netherlands, Qatar, Indonesia, Korea and Japan.
Next month, we will be taking one child from each state and territory to Cape Town in South Africa to help put our case forward. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to present our credentials in front of a global football and media audience who will be assembled for the draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup – and we think it’s only appropriate that some of the young people of Australia who play the game help us do so.
Between now and December 2010, we must show that Australia is behind this bid as a nation – every man, woman and child. Help us invite the rest of the world to bring the greatest show on Earth to our island home.
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