Friday, December 3, 2010

They Don’t Know What They’re Missing

Like many people I never really expected that Australia would win the bid to host the World Cup of Football in 2022, but I did expect that our bid would at least receive strong support. After all, the competing nations were the United States, Japan, South Korea, Qatar and Australia. Of those, I believed the bid would most likely go the United States or Japan, possibly South Korea, and perhaps Australia would come second or third in the vote. And there was, I believed, a genuine chance that we might actually pull it off and win. But to discover now that the Australian bid only received one vote in the first round is something of a shock.

What were they thinking? Here we are, the best country in the world, with the best climate in the world, home to some of the best players in the world, and with the proven experience of staging the best Olympics ever, and yet the executives of FIFA have simply brushed us aside. Qatar, on the other hand, has very few players and fans, and even fewer facilities, and is so hot that entire stadia will have to be air conditioned to stop people from dropping dead in the heat. It is such a bizarre outcome that it can only heighten concerns about the nature of the whole bidding process, which have ranged from collusion through to outright corruption.

While many people might debate the benefits of hosting such a massive event, with some insisting that it would have been too big, too expensive, and of little benefit to Australia, the fact is that Australia would have mounted a magnificent World Cup. It’s disappointing to have lost out, and insulting to have been given just one vote, but in the end, Australia is not the loser from this decision. We have offered the world the opportunity to come play in one of the best counties in the world, and we would have given them the time of their lives. But they have made another choice, and that is their loss more than it is ours. The rest of the world just doesn’t know what they’re missing.

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