Sporting bodies FFA and FIFA must stop the nonsense that is its bidding process for the World Cup of football.
It is nothing but an exercise in self-gratification for one of the globe’s two most powerful sporting bodies.
The Lords of the Round Ball Game are acting out a farce of the grossest nature and have the leaders of not only national football federations, but also of their countries, fawning before them in an effort to get the nod to stage the world’s second most prestigious sporting festival.
In Australia’s case the Federal Government has committed $47 million for the bid alone. With only 24 FIFA executive members entitled to cast a ballot in the big decision, and with the president choosing not to, that’s around $2 million spent a vote - without taking into account that which Football Federation Australia is putting into it.
For sure it is well argued that some of this money is invested in conditioning the influential media of the world to form a favourable view of Australia’s bid and thus in turn influence at least 12 of the FIFA men to tick our box.
But the expectation of the outlay required not only by Australia, but each of the other bidders, is even more surely over the top.
If FIFA is fair dinkum, would it not rather $500 million be spent on developing the game around the world?
This decision can be made without all of this hullabaloo. Presumably the executive board members are experts about their game and by now also on staging major events.
If they are not they can hire an expert or two to advise them. A bid book and a presentation is in the end all that is really needed.
While there is no suggestion that it does now, the system must have at least the potential to lead to a scandal like the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics bid process.
But it seems that the outrageous cost to bid is only the tip of the iceberg in the money-wasting department.
The boys at FIFA in their wisdom require each bidding nation to guarantee that it will have 12 stadiums capable of seating at least 40,000 people by the time the World Cup is to be staged.
Even Australia with its sports- mad culture doesn’t even come close. If tiny Qatar happens to succeed, what is it going to do with that many monstrous edifices? Like many past Olympic facilities they will simply sit there and fall into disrepair.
Presumably FIFA argues that this is all about leaving a legacy for the game in those countries fortunate enough to host its biggest property but with just 64 matches in the tournament, a vastly smaller number of stadiums can suffice.
Because FIFA not unreasonably insists that the World Cup must be staged during the Australian winter, a successful bid will necessarily bring conflict with the other football codes requiring venues during that period.
Where FIFA is again unreasonable is in insisting that all World Cup venues be available solely for that purpose for eight weeks and must be “clean” in terms of advertising.
This means, for example that an AFL game cannot be played at Etihad Stadium on a Friday night and a World Cup pool match the following Monday.
If FIFA maintains its insistence on both the dozen venues and on exclusivity, Australia will in reality need as many as 16 40,000-plus seat stadiums for the eight weeks of the tournament and black-out period. A month later we will be back to needing half a dozen.
More than a few extra shots of carbon dioxide will be fired into the atmosphere in the process of needless construction.
The FIFA executive needs to have a good hard look at itself and think of matters other than its own self-importance.
Brian Roe
Sunday Examiner, 13 Dec 09