The fallout from Friday mornings World Cup Bid Announcement has been enormous not only here but around the World. And not only about Qatar winning but also Russia. England were on a hiding to nothing after the BBC aired their Panorama documentary on FIFA corruption.
As an Aussie who woke up especially to watch on Friday morning, I was absolutely gutted to hear “and the winner is, Qatar”. I just could not believe what I had heard. I was sure I would cry if we didn’t get it, but I didn’t. I was just numb for about 15 mins.
I would like to give a big shout out to Frank Lowy and the entire Bid team for a fantastic effort to try and bring the greatest show on earth to the best country on earth. But it was not to be.
The overall majority of the football world outside Qatar and the Middle East believe it was pure corruption. How could a country of 1.3 Million people and only 161km long x 80km wide host the biggest single sporting event in the universe? The Emir of Qatar will simply spend 10’s of Billions of dollars building relocatable stadiums and presumably hotels to ensure the structural success. These stadiums will be dismantled and given to developing football nations presumably in Africa and parts of Asia. This is a massive gesture and if done properly will benefit those nations one would hope. But what else did they promise to the ExCom? We will never know. It just seems the World Game is up for sale to the highest bidder and to hell with the game and fans.
What about the Fans?
Whilst the stadiums and hotels will be air conditioned, getting around in 50 degree heat between venues and days where you won’t be at the football will be almost unbearable for the majority of people. Their technical bid raised all sorts of flags whilst Australia’s was the best. Our commercial bid came in for a caning though.
It is a clear indication to me that the bid process is a farce. In the end the ExCom voted with the money and Bin Hammam has won a decisive battle in his personal war with Sepp Blatter. The worlds football fans are the big loser here. We are completely disillusioned with FIFA and their lack of transparency. The makeup of the ExCom and the voting process needs to be overhauled so as the representatives are held accountable to the grass roots of the game.
Likewise the bidding process needs to be overhauled. There is no way football associations should be required to spend 10’s of millions of dollars to woo the votes of the ExCom. The same should be said for Olympics and other International events. There is just too much room for corruption and collusion to run unabated.
The upcoming Asia Cup finals in January will give us an insight into the ability of Qatar to accommodate football fans on a large scale. The World Cup will be 10 times bigger.
Where to Now?
Well, we just have to concentrate on what we can control. That is the development of our own Leagues and national teams at all levels.
Next year at a senior level we have the Socceroos at the AFC Asian Cup Finals in January and in June the Matildas (reigning Womens Asian Cup Champions) will be at the Womens World Cup in Germany. As fans we have to get behind our game at all these levels and those teams need to perform exceptionally.
I have left all my anger and disappointment behind and will just move forward. I wont waste all that negative energy on a bunch of old wankers in Zurich. Move forward Australia and lets show the World what we have and show those old farts in Zurich how friggin good we are.
Not Sour Grapes
I suppose you could say I have sour grapes that Australia did not win. But this is not the case. If the bid went to either the USA, Japan or Korea I probably would have cried and congratulated the winner. Then looked forward to planning a world cup trip there. I do congratulate the football fans in Qatar, they are over the moon and no doubt looking forward to hosting.
This reaction is similar if not identical to every Aussie fan i have spoken to.
I was at Stadium Australia on this day back in 2005. It was the culmination of 12 months of planning for me. I said to Veronica the Christmas before, “If Australia reaches the World Cup, we are all going to Germany”. She said “great”, and started planning a trip to Thailand with the money, because she didn’t believe Australia would make it.
I was living in the same place I do now, Gold Coast Qld, 800km from Stadium Australia. Once the date for the game was announced I booked flights to Sydney for myself. I rang a mate in Sydney and told him I was coming and he said he would organise the tickets.
I Got A Feeling
I went to work as normal that morning, except dressed in Green and Gold. At about 2pm I had a girl from the office drive me to GC airport for my 3pm flight to Sydney. I can’t remember being so excited prior to this moment. If the Black Eyed Peas had released their song back then I would have been singing “I Got A Feeling” all the way there.
Landed in Sydney and hoped on a train to Central and then had to find the train to Homebush. I couldn’t believe the size of the crowd heading to the train. The feeling just got better. The train was packed and we took off, express to Homebush. I rang my mate when I arrived and met him at the gate. By this time it was 7pm, 1 hr till kickoff. The stadium was jam packed. I headed to the food line for a burger then lined up for a beer. It took me 40 mins and I finally arrived at my seat 15 mins before kickoff.
I had watched the Johnny Warren tribute on a TV whilst in line for a beer, it was very emotional and all the people in the line were just getting more buzzed about the whole night. “We all had a feeling”.
My seat was in row 16 behind the goals at the North end 2 bays over from the GGA. The atmosphere was electric. I had never been in a crowd this big for any event. What a night to be part of this was going to turn out. My mate didn’t tell me we were part of a large crew of people from my old club Engadine Eagles, so there were heaps of old faces to catch up with, all be it briefly.
The excitement grew when the teams entered the pitch. They lined up for the National Anthems and I could not believe it when the Uruguay anthem started and the crowd jeered and whistled throughout, it was insane and I joined in after realizing it was in protest at the treatment our blokes copped from the unfriendly Uruguayans in Montevideo, 5 days earlier. Then we sung our lungs out for “Advance Australia Fair”, the sound was awesome, 80,000 people all behind our National Football team.
And So It Begins….
The game kicked off and we were into it. Joining in on chants and sons that were started by people around us. It really started to build. I was telling my mates that if we win, I am taking the family to Germany. They couldn’t believe it, I told them it was a no brainer. After 32 years, I wasn’t going to miss our chance at a World Cup.
Then about the 35 min mark (I think), Marco Bresciano banged in a goal right in front of us and the crowd went wild. Do we dare to dream? You bet we do, that’s all I had dreamt about for 12 months, getting to the World Cup.
The game ebbed and flowed. The next biggest cheer was when “Mr Divine Right Ricoba” was replaced. Oh how we laughed. Eventually we ended in extra time and the nerves really amped up. Then Full Time. We are going to Penalties. I definitely had a feeling now, but it was more like I wanted to vomit. This shit was made for TV surely. How could 32 years of waiting come down to this dramatic conclusion? It just did.
When Shwartz saved the first one, the feeling came back, we are surely going to do it tonight, surely. It all came crashing down when Dukes put his wide though. But the true hero of the night, Mark Shwartzer stepped up again and saved what is the best penalty save in the history of football in any country in any time.
The single best night I have ever had at the Football or any sporting event for that matter. Within minutes I was on the phone to home and yelling down the phone, “we’re going to Germany, we’re going to Germany” I couldn’t hear my wife of sons but knew the phone had been answered. Thailand was now dead and buried and we had a European Vacation to plan.
I have since been to Germany and South Africa World Cups, as well as the Asian Cup in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia and seen just about every Aussie home game since. I even started this blog because of that one night.
In 16 days time on December 2 in Zurich the announcement of the World Cup hosts for 2018 and 2022 will be announced. It will be the early hours of Dec 3 here and just like I did back when Juan Antonio announced “And the winner is…. Sidineey” I will be up watching this with even greater anticipation. Having the World Cup in Australia would be an awesome boost for the game in this country, and right now we do need a boost.
To pledge your support, go along to www.australiabid.com.au and sign up. Costs nothing and adds yet another number to support the bid.
Come On Aussies, we can do it. We just need a little faith.
In a surprise to no one, I am really excited about going to South Africa next week. I have spent the past 4 months planning and booking flights, accommodation, safaris etc. It has been time consuming and an absolute blast.
Next Wednesday night, my lovely wife and I take off to Sydney before flying to Johannesburg the following morning. This time without the boys. They don’t seem to upset and are probably planning their party’s as I type. Veronica has put up instructions next to all the appliances as a reminder. They have had their induction and competency training on each one, lets hope they are still in one piece when we return.
There are many tours available but Veronica and I along with 6 others have planned our own African safari. All up we will be away for 28 days and will have spent about 40% less than those on a 19 day tour. We will be flying and driving around the country and taking in some of the best sites South Africa has to offer. From Table Mountain to Kruger National park, we intend on having a fantastic time.
4 years ago we drove around Germany in a Camper Van with our boys, and in the middle I took Veronica shopping in Austria and then Neuschwanstein Castle for her birthday. This time we are heading to Victoria Falls for 2 nights. Does that get me husband of the year or what?
We made some great friends in Germany and will be traveling with them to South Africa. One lady we are traveling with I didn’t meet until the Asian Cup in 2007. Her name is Heather and she is possibly the most loyal Socceroo supporter ever. Heather is over 70 years old and is traveling to her 5th World Cup. Her first was in 1974 to watch the first ever World Cup for the Socceroos. And she has been traveling to watch them ever since.
Over the 4 weeks we are away I will keep a diary and will have plenty of Blogging material for when I get back.
As I write this sentence my countdown timer is ticking over to 6 days, 0 hours, 0 Minutes until we take off for Sydney. BRING IT ON
Until then you can follow me daily on Twitter Cheers
A mate of mine, and owner of www.Kickoff.com.au, Scott Weigand, has written an article on why we should get the World Cup here in Australia. I have reproduced it here as I think it is a great article and sums up pretty well why Australia should get it.
The rumours are done and dusted – Australia is officially bidding for either the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Australia via the FFA and the Australian Federal Government have officially stated their intention to host what would be Asian confederations second ever world cup tournament following on from the 2002 tournament held by joint hosts Japan and South Korea.
It would also represent the only realistic opportunity for the world to knock on Oceania’s doorstep with New Zealand just a short distance away.
However, that’s the easy part. Now the war for the hearts and minds of FIFA’s 24 man executive committee takes place amongst such global heavyweights as England, Russia and the United States, not to mention the likes of Japan, Indonesia and Spain/Portugal’s joint bid.
So does Australia have a realistic chance? You bet!
True, in perhaps typical fashion we will be the underdogs but there are 10 main reasons why the world cup should be brought to our shores:
1: Australia has a proven track record in hosting major international events:
The Sydney 2000 Olympic games are still arguably the best to date, the 2003 Rugby World Cup and 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games to name a few.
2: Australia is a safe and desirable destination:
Australia represents one of the safest and most desirable destinations for international travellers and the World Cup would bring record numbers of international guests particularly from locations such as England and Japan.
3: Australia’s relative wealth:
Between the Federal and state Governments and business enterprise there is no doubt of Australia’s ability to upgrade existing stadiums and develop new stadiums as well as surrounding infrastructure requirements including transport and accommodation.
4: An emerging footballing superpower:
True football is not the major sport in Australia and it is in the unique position of having to compete with 3 other football codes, however, football is seeing record numbers of growth both in a grass roots level and interest level including corporate sponsorship. The Socceroos are now a top 20 ranked country and the introduction of the A-League, National Youth League and developmental programs for players and coaches means that the next generation of Australian players have a better chance of gracing the worlds top leagues and clubs.
5: Legacy for Australian football:
The current trends of growth of football in Australia will be exponentially greater given the legacy hosting a world cup would provide for Australia. To this day, many Australian’s do not realise the sheer size and gravity of the world cup and having a world cup in Australia would capture the imagination of the youth who hopefully turn to football as a sport of choice.
6: Sporting Culture
Australia truly is one of the worlds great melting pot of sports, in the Olympics we punch well above our weight in terms of population base and are always strong in the traditional sports of rugby, cricket and netball.
7: TV exposure:
Asia, by far the worlds biggest population base and the worlds fastest growing football continent sits within a comfortable time zone for Asian TV audiences with important markets such as China and Japan able to watch games at decent timeslots.
8: Volunteer spirit:
The Sydney 2000 Olympic games clearly demonstrated that locals are only to happy to lend their valuable time and energy to assisting making major events a success both from a logistical point of view and assisting international and interstate guests.
9: Multicultural Australia:
More so that most places on earth, Australia truly is a melting pot of global cultures living in harmony regardless of race or religion. A FIFA World Cup would bring much colour and excitement to local communities who would not only support Australia but have a soft spot for their homelands.
10: A New Frontier:
Unlike several other bidding nations Australia represents a new frontier for football. Australia has never hosted the FIFA World Cup before, and Asia only once. A local world cup would grow the game not only in Australia but throughout Asia and would arguably provide a bigger impact than mature markets such as Europe. Australia is also the only continent to never have hosted a world cup finals.
Naturally, each and every bidder will push their case for why they are more deserving of hosting a world cup than Australia, but these are compelling arguments. Thankfully we have a wily, persuasive and powerful man at the wheel in Frank Lowy, a man who has built an empire from scratch and in many ways is trying to do the same for football which just a few short years ago was more or less in ruins.
Recently Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd visited FIFA President Sepp Blatter at FIFA headquaters in Zurich to push Australia’s case for hosting the world cup. Whilst this is many ways is little more than a token gesture is does demonstrate to the powers that be that Australian’s are backing the FFA’s bid right to the top.
So that leads me to my final point…
What can we do, the football punter to help maintain the interest and demonstrate we are deserving. Firstly, I would strongly encourage everyone to sign up to the Official Bidding website at: AUSTRALIA 2018-2022
Tell everyone to sign up, even “non-football” people, because a world cup would ultimately benefit all Australian’s not just through sport but it would provide a major boost to the Australian economy and improve infrastructure.
Also, get behind football wherever possible. Attend as many A-League and Socceroos matches as possible and encourage people to go. Ultimately, the more interest we maintain in the sport the better our chance to win.
With qualification in the bag we were down to our last group game for the qualification process. And it was against perhaps our biggest rival in Asia, Japan. The Blue Samurai had also qualified and some pundits were wondering whether there was anything in the match
I would say that the pride of both nations was on the line, for the players as well as the fans. Both managers had hard decisions to make regarding the make up of the starting teams. In the end Australia still sent out a very strong side along with some new blood and the re-emergence of Nicky Carle to the starting line up, which pleased many. Whilst Nicky had a solid game and did not do anything wrong, he also fell short of some of the hype generated by some journalists.
After going down a goal prior to half time, it took K-Town hero, “Super Tim” to level the slate and then WIN the game. I think the Blue Samurai nightmares came flooding back at this point.
FOR THE FANS
I was in the crowd on Wednesday night and had a fantastic time. Mid winter, freezing cold, mid week and a dead rubber, but the fans turned out and just shy of 70,000 people enjoyed a great night in Melbourne. The GGA organised a meet up at The Corner Hotel in Richmond and we all had a great time catching up.
Muz, a Newcastle boy and GGA Nutter came up with a great banner that was displayed at the end of the match along the fence. Says it all really.
Some of the chants were great. “You only sing when you’re whaling”, “10 Kamikaze’s in the air”. It is a great atmosphere in the home end at Aussie matches these days, despite the efforts of some twats to stir up interstate rivalries (perhaps the topic of another post).
For me it was just great catching up with a group of people I met in Germany and have kept in contact with ever since. For me, that is the real benefit of following the Socceroos.
Australia will be a fantastic venue for the FIFA World Cup, whether that be in 2018 or 2022. I personally think that England’s will get 2018, but we are in a great position to get 2022.
What is not to like about Australia? We have some of the best tourist destinations in the World. We have proved without a doubt that we can host the biggest events the world has to offer. And we are one of the safest destinations on the planet.
So come on people, get behind our bid, join up and show your support.
Last Wednesday was party time in Sydney. It was not the best game and the crowd was fairly poor. There has been plenty written about the game itself.
The best part for me was catching up with all my fellow Socceroo fans. It is the biggest benefit for me, making so many friends with like minded people. We started at the Lowenbrau in the Rocks for some lunch. Have a go at the platter here.
We took away the leftovers in a doggy bag and had a snack on the train on our way to the match.
We are off to Melbourne on Wednesday morning for our last qualifier against Japan. This is for bragging rights as we have both qualified. Will need to look at Asian Cup Qualifications now to work out when we will next get together for a few beers and pork knuckle.
With Qatar and Qualification out of the road, the boys landed in Sydney today to prepare for our next assignment against Bahrain on Wednesday Night.
No Let Up
I don’t expect any let up from the players this Wednesday. Although we have qualified I feel we will want the psychological edge over arch rivals Japan. I certainly do as a fan. I think only injury’s will keep Pim from fielding the same side he did on Sunday morning.
This Wednesday will give us Aussies, who could not get to Qatar, a chance to party and celebrate our Qualification for the greatest sporting event on earth. I will fly to Sydney with my wife to join in the festivities, and am looking forward to celebrating with my GGA friends.
It started out against Qatar on Feb 6, 2008 in Melbourne. We won 3-0 that night. In the early hours of this morning, we again faced Qatar in Doha this time. The 4th time during this WC campaign. We settled for a 0-0 score and with that, “QUALIFICATION” For South Africa 2010.
It was not all that pretty, and the Qatari’s certainly came out swinging. They took the fight to us and gave us the toughest match against them yet.