2022 FIFA World Cup Vote: Questions need to be answered

By Domenic Favata

In the early hours of Friday morning, the Middle Eastern country of Qatar were handed the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Australia managed only one vote, after spending 46.5 million dollars of tax payer money. But it is not the price to pay we should worry about, it is the suspicion that corruption was involved in the process. As far as Australia and Mr Lowy are concerned, they received positive messages from the FIFA executive committee and promised with votes. To receive only one vote is a significant slap in the face to the FFA and Mr Lowy.

How anyone in their right mind could vote to allow Qatar to host a World Cup is bizarre in my mind. Bizarre in that the World Cup will be played over 4 weeks in scorching 50? temperature, played in a country slightly smaller than Melbourne which consists of 600,000 plus the thousands from around the globe. How is this a logical decision? Yes, Qatar have promised ideal playing conditions for the footballers, promising air-conditioned stadiums, but what about the other 22.5 hours of the day. I’m afraid FIFA need answer some questions, questions surrounding corruption.

Australia crashed out in the first round of voting, a significant setback as we were tipped to progress through the rounds. To get one vote is saying that Australia are not capable of hosting a World Cup, which is ironic as we have hosted arguably the best ever Olympic Games, Australian Opens and Commonwealth Games. We were positioned to host a great World Cup, a safe World Cup and an efficient World Cup. Yes, some may say that the Scooby-Doo, cliché tagged video produced in the final pitch may have dinted our hopes. However, you cannot declare this a culprit to our failure as the bidding process has gone on for two and a half years. The one setback that forever surrounded Australia was the possibility of not gaining enough revenue or TV audience for FIFA. Qatar would have certainly had not troubles with money, as stated by FFA board member Jack Reilly, “the Qatar delegation have been pushing money around for a long period of time.” This is where the corruption had begun.

The result was leaked to an Arab TV station almost an hour before it was officially announced by FIFA president Sepp Blatter. With the decision due sometime after 4pm local time, the Al Jazeera satellite channel reported at 3.40pm that Qatar had been successful, apparently having been tipped off by a member of the Qatari royal family.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter finally announced the 2022 result close to 4.30pm local time, 50 minutes after the result had been revealed by Al Jazeera.

The occurrence of these events from the Al Jazeera has immediately surrounded Qatar and its winning bid. To have it leaked back to your home country suggests that there is heavy corruption involved, there are many questions to be answered and I suspect more and more details to emerge in the coming days.

However, all these allegations do not warm the hearts of the FFA or the Australian community. A World Cup would have been great; it would have changed the face of football in Australia for years to come. For now, we can only think of “what could have been” and let our football do the talking. This decision should act as motivation to the Socceroos, spurring them on in taking on the rest of the world.

Comments

  1. Steve Healy says:

    Lovely article Dom, I was surprised by that decision too, but jeez 2022 seems so far away. And at least the footy season won’t be interrupted

  2. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    Enough said.

  3. Damian Watson says:

    Dom,

    I realise this issue has gone unnoticed in the eyes of the Australian public, but I’m eager to hear your opinion on the fact that England recieved a bare 2 votes in it’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

    Surely the soccer-mad mother country, who have not hosted the World Cup since 1966 would be more than capable in staging a successful World Cup in this the new millenium. England obtain the neccesary venues, culture, facilities and economic growth/opportunity to host a World Cup and would surely be more inclined to host this event than a nation such as Russia who continue to remain entrentched or embroiled in their own current domestic and economic issues which have plagued them for the last couple of decades.

    Does this indicate that FIFA’s voting system is farcical and corrupt?

    or do you agree with the delegates decision to provide Russia with the 2018 World Cup?

    By the way I agree with your opinion on FIFA’s ludicrous decision to select Qatar as a World Cup host despite all of the negative aspects that you have mentioned.

    Keep up the good work!!

  4. Thanks all.

    Damian, i believe the controversial BBC footage leaked to the media left a dent in England’s hopes and the minds of the FIFA executives.

    I believe if England got the World Cup, it would be the most successful in history, i don’t agree with Russia, but they should do a good job considering the size of their country.

  5. Dave Nadel says:

    Amidst all the crying and complaining (and I am referring to things that I read in the press rather than your article, Dominic) amidst all the teeth gnashing and screaming foul, I wonder if the following facts have been considered.

    1. Soccer is still a minority sport in Australia in terms of support. I know the Socceroos got massive local support during the last two World Cups but that says nothing about local soccer. I know that huge numbers of kids play soccer (even huger of numbers of women and girls play netball) but commercial support is decided by spectator numbers and soccer is still a long way behind Australian Rules. This becomes important when International Tournaments are awarded.

    There have only been two World Cups awarded to countries where Soccer was not the uncontested number one sport. The USA, which was selected because FIFA hoped to kick start soccer in the richest and most powerful country in the world (which was not really the outcome of 1994), and South Africa, which was the only country in Africa which had the infrastructure to present the World Cup and was chosen for political reasons.

    There are no economic or political reasons for chosing Australia. We had to win on our merits and Soccer is not the pre-eminent code of football in Australia.

    2. Will some of the “new” soccer fans recognise that part of the disappointment at the World Cup is due to the triumphalism in which they have been engaging since 2006. I am not referring to long term soccer fans like Ian Syson, indeed I am not referring to any almanac poster. I am referring to over the top journalists like the Age’s Michael Lynch, who is even today predicting that soccer will triumph over local codes. I am referring to all those soccer officials and fans who insist the game be referred to as “football” even though there are three other codes of football played in both an amateur and professional capacity in this country and two of them draw much larger crowds than soccer.

    I am referring to those cultural cringers who think that the fact that soccer is played in Manchester, Moscow and Munich as well as Melbourne makes it a better game than the local game and makes supporters of the local game, parochial, narow and some kind of sporting “Hansonites”
    I personally think it makes the would-be-internationalists, rather sad wannabes and the funny thing is, the soccer fans who actually live in Manchester, Moscow and Munich are probably as parochial about their teams and home areas as the average Adelaide Crows fan!

    3. The fact that we only got one vote suggests that we were never serious contenders. It is no good complaining about lying delegates, if we were serious contenders we should have at least got 20% of the votes. Totally doomed Olympic bids for Brisbane (1992) and Melbourne (1996) got at least 20% of votes on the first ballot. This bid was wishful thinking, based on the (admirable) success of the socceroos in 2006, unrealistic triumphalism of soccer fans and journalists and delusions of grandeur by some soccer officials and politicians. It was always going to end in tears.

  6. Tim Ivins says:

    My friends and I discussed this in depth yesterday. Firstly, the fact we only garnered one vote could be seen as a mark of strength for our bid. This best correlates with England only receiving 2 votes, essentially England is a threat to a bigger player like Russia so the executive tactically votes to knock out a competitor. This alluded to in http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/dec/04/world-cup-2018-how-england-bid-failed. I believe Australia posed a stronger threat to Qatar as they had targeted their campaign on achieving second round votes (I remember reading this at some point). Therefore Japan and South Korea like Belgium/Holland were no threat and subsequently used to take out a big player.

    what truly matters to FIFA. Legacy. And Qatar succeeded in that point. The technology and the fact that the stadiums would be dismantled and gifted was a master stroke (I and imagine many others will watch carefully where these stadiums go. I can envisage Cameroon will be a recipient courtesy of Issa Hayatou. As well as Guatemala, Cote D’Ivoire, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago etc – This should explain it http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/federation/bodies/exco.html)

    Australia missed an opportunity and I wish we’d thought of it now. You seek permission from the elders, build a temporary stadium at Alice Springs, some hotels and truly bring in indigenous culture. Add in Uluru as a backdrop in the Marketing and you have an icon. Qatar were smart, they couldn’t accept bribes (supposedly) but they could gift major infrastructure ensuring that images of Qatar remain forever, A cynic would then suggest that the member of that nation who voted for them could skim the relocation costs after the event (In fact I’m willing to bet ‘tenders’ are being prepared as we speak.

    Take out the proposition of bribery though and for the tv markets Qatar makes sense to so many voters. Tony Popovic has already said games get played at 11pm onwards, well that is primetime in Western Europe. Given the heat I could envisage there being a realistic chance of some games commencing at 1am local time, again great timing for Europe. Add in the fact that many members home countries are a reasonably close flight away and logistically Qatar starts to makes a lot of sense. Australia is a combination of long flights and terrible tv times (look at Beijing 2008 with major finals occuring at times suited to the major TV Markets).

    When it all boils down to it. Yes I will go to Qatar in 2022, it’s going to be a fascinating orgy of football. Every stadium within easy reach of the other. I can’t wait to see how it works and the Solar grid. Small geography and big ideals do have their benefits. Our proposed legacy did not enough appeal to the hubris of the 23 men on the Executive and that is the long and the short of it.

  7. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    They would have been better off using the 46 million dollars to bribe the delegates. That video presentation was cringeworthy.

    They may as well have trotted out Skippy,Sonny,Strop,Delvene Delaney,Bert Newton,Ernie Sigley and Tony Barber. The last time Hoges did any decent advertising was when he urged us to have a Winfield.

    You’re right Dave, soccer is still a poor relation in Australia. This goes to show how naive Lowy, Buckley and co were with this bid. FIFA and the IOC will always sell their souls to the highest bidder. Good on Qatar and Russia for knowing how to play the game. Vale fair play…for good :((

    Australia

  8. Was not the $46 million, in a roundabout way, a slight form of bribery? How else could you justify pearl cufflinks and necklaces? Was it just that Australia were outbribed? I’m probably wrong on this.

    But I have a serious point to make, and props to my cousin for pointing this one out:
    Australia will possibly never host a World Cup, all because of our time zone. What, do we expect all of Europe to be up at 3am every morning for a month to watch the Cup? Or will we start games at midnight in Australia?

    The audience would be greatly affected, as would advertising and all other kinds of revenue. It is too impractical for the simple reason we are too far away from Europe.

  9. Maybe we should introduce an extreme form of daylight saving to put us in the same time zone as Europe. We’ve already turned soccer into a summer game…

  10. Lowy’s “connections” were meant to make it sweet. Outplayed!
    I looked at early markets (years ago Aus 1000 to 1) and then on voting eve (Qatar odds on)- where is the shock?

  11. Martin Reeves says:

    Dom – I share your disappointment at missing out.; I could almost hear the sigh of relief from AFL House as Sepp Blatter announced Qatar as the 2022 host.

    I feel Frank Lowy and Ben Buckley were right to bid for the 2022 (and 2018 initially) hosting rights. 2022 was always a good chance to be held in Asia; Japan and South Korea were overly-optimistic of hosting it again so soon, and China were not in the running.

    This left Qatar, and up until last week, most would have thought we were in a stronger position than them to host. Many still do.

    The next opportunity for an Asian nation to host the Cup will be 2030 as 2026 will go to a non-Asian State. By this time, FIFA will have an eager eye on China to tap into that massive market.

    If things play out this way, 2038 could be the next opportunity for the World Cup to be held in Australia. 28 years away. You can see why Lowy and Buckley tried their hand.

    As for the media response to the result, there has been the expected cries of foul play and dodgy-backroom dealings from some circles. But for the most part, I’ve been impressed with the way Lowy and the bid team have conducted themselves, as well as the pundits from SBS (not always known for their rationality). In contrast, the tabloid press in Europe and the US have been savage in defeat.

    No doubt Australia would have faced unique difficulties in staging the tournament, but nothing insurmountable.

  12. My only concern is for the exploited workers from neighbouring sub-continental countries who will be brought out to construct these stadia. They will be ‘housed’ in conditions that most dogs in Australia would turn their noses up at. Bet fifa won’t be worried about how the money gets spent then…

  13. I see my article has created lots of discussion and opinion.

    The main point that seems to hush all the critiques is that, at the end of the day, FIFA were thinking through $$$, not the spirit, passion and love of the game. China is being pursued by FIFA!, yes FIFA!, in hosting the 2030 World Cup. Now doesent this speak for itself given China is the fastest growing economy and will be the power of the world come 2030. (if it isnt already the power of the world)

    Australia would have delivered, and soccer would change in Australia for a lifetime.

  14. Juan Antonio Summer-Ranch, Septic Bladder, Andrew Illtakefromu: all the leaders of world pivotal sporting bodies have their own agendas.

    Hush child pay it no mind. Those lords giveth and those lords taketh away.

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