World Cup Bid: FFA CEO Ben Buckley Plays Down AFL Concerns

Former Aussie Rules supremo is diplomatic.
Foootball Federation Australia CEO Ben Buckley has dismissed suggestions that hosting a World Cup in Australia would force rival code the AFL to shut down for an entire season.

In an interview earlier this week, AFL CEO Andrew Demetriou responded to a question suggesting that the AFL would need to abandon an entire season by stating it was something the sport “just couldn’t entertain”.

The main problem for the AFL would be the need to modify the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – which is currently the home of four AFL teams – leaving it unavailable for 16 weeks.

Demetriou suggested that it was impossible to move the AFL season to a different time of the year due to a variety of factors including television ratings, the presence of rival sports and weather.

However Buckley – an AFL administrator who worked alongside Demetriou until joining the FFA in 2006 – says football’s governing body hasn’t asked the AFL to shut down for an entire season.

"We've never asked the AFL to shut down their season; we've only outlined to them the various FIFA requirements to host a World Cup," Buckley said at a press conference yesterday.

"We need to get access four weeks before the competition for preparation for pitches and preparation for stadia overlay that are required by FIFA and the duration of the tournament.

"In our estimation, that is six to eight weeks depending upon where the finals are played and what venues are used.

"We've outlined to the AFL a range of scenarios and options that would need to be considered. We've consulted with them on a number of occasions."

Chris Paraskevas,

Get all the Australian football coverage you need on the Australia homepage!