World Cup 2018: Australia Is A Football Country

Goal.com's Con Stamocostas looks at Australia's potential stadiums and the other bidders for the 2018/22 World Cup.
Is it such a pipe dream to suggest that Australia could host the 2018/22 World Cup? The sceptics will say that it is not a football country.

If Australia is not a football country, then what is this football writer doing typing away madly at this computer?

FIFA introduced a policy of continental rotation that enabled the bids of South Africa and then Brazil to succeed; before then the World Cup had never left Europe for consecutive tournaments.

South American countries were barred from joining either race in 2018/22 as Brazil will host the 2014 tournament and because South Africa is hosting in 2010, African nations were only eligible to bid for the 2022 World Cup but none came forward.

The bookmakers have the odds at England 6/4, Russia 7/2, Spain and Portugal 5, Australia 9/2, Holland and Belgium 25, Mexico 20 USA 20 Japan 20 Indonesia 33.

There has been talk in European media that with Europe's television markets being responsible for large chunks of revenue for FIFA (FIFA relies on the World Cup for 90 per cent of its income) it is said broadcasters in Europe would not be happy if the 2018 World Cup went to Asia or Australia where matches would be played outside of their prime time hours

Australia is part of the Asian confederation the world fastest growing football region and with expectations of FIFA to earn 2.46 billion Euros (C$4.05 billion) in television and marketing revenue from the 2010 tournament in South Africa a similar return from Brazil in 2014 and an Asian World cup in Australia in 2018 should not be out of the question; the world watches the World Cup no matter what time it is on.

FIFA has a responsibility to reach out and touch the world, using football as a symbol of hope and integration (it’s says so on FIFA’s website) and why not use Australia with its multicultural society as way of spreading FFA’s message to the world.

FIFA regulations stipulate that candidates must provide approximately 12 stadiums capable holding at least 40,000 fans for group matches, and one stadium of at least 80,000 capacity to stage the opening match and final.

So what about Australia’s stadiums? Let’s look at where the potential 12 and final stadiums could be:

NSW (5)
Stadium Australia (83,500 capacity) where the Sydney 2000 Olympics where held; could be where the final is played. Sydney Football Stadium (45,500 capacity) could be used for group games.

Newcastle Stadium (40,000) is getting an upgrade to the FIFA regulations so it is favoured as one of the stadiums the FFA will include in its bids plan.

Central Coast Stadium (20,119) would have to be upgraded but this option seems less likely.

Canberra (1)
The Canberra Times reported just yesterday:

The ACT Government believes a possible $350million redevelopment of Canberra's sporting landscape will lure more world-class events to the capital. The grand proposal is an overhaul of the Bruce precinct, involving a redevelopment of Canberra Stadium and the construction of a new 40,000-seat stadium on the site of the existing eastern car park. The full project is only likely to go ahead if Australia is successful in its bid to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup, which would guarantee Commonwealth and private funding.

Melbourne (3)
The MCG is one of those troublesome oval grounds; fans usually don't like them, but tournament organisers certainly do - especially for finals. There is also Docklands Stadium (53,555) and the new Rectangular Stadium (31,001 capacity), which would have to be upgraded to 40,000 to meet FIFA’s guidelines.

QLD (3)
The Brisbane Stadium (54,000) is widely considered Australia’s best football venue. The Robina Stadium (27,400) on the Gold Coast and the stadium of North Queensland (27,000) up in Townsville would have to be upgraded.

Adelaide (2)
FFA CEO Ben Buckley has ruled out using the famous cricket ground, Adelaide Oval (36,000), and the government has said it will not build a new one - so South Australia could miss out altogether, which would be a shame there is also the option of Football Park (52,000), an oval ground.

Perth (2)
Perth Oval (18,156) is too small and Subiaco (42,922) is an AFL ground. There was talk about the State government building a new stadium close to the city.

Tasmania (1)

Bellerive Oval (16,000) is another oval-shaped pitch with a small capacity. Unless a new stadium is built, Tasmania is unlikely to be part of the bid.

The other bidding nations for 2018/22 and their odds

England, 6/4

The favourite, the so called 'home of football', has the stadiums and infrastructure; however, a problem with fan disturbances and an embarrassing error in accidentally inviting a member of the BNP, a right-wing, whites-only political party to the bid launch could provide problems for England.

Russia, 7/2

Has the wealth from natural resources to build infrastructure like stadiums and hotels; however, its 11 time zones will cause logistical headaches and also a perception of political instability. Russian Football Union spokesman Andrei Malasolov has been quoted as saying Russia had no preference on hosting in 2018 or 2022 and would leave it to FIFA to decide.

Spain & Portugal, 5
Spain is expected to host the greater share of matches. The Iberian bid will expect strong support from the three South American representatives on FIFA's 24-man Executive Committee; a conflict within UEFA could split the confederation's eight votes.

Holland & Belgium, 25
Did host Euro 2000, but not one of the main favourites; could struggle for support in the FIFA Executive Committee.

Japan, 20
Was the joint host in 2002 with South Korea, where the tournament was defined by good organisation and infrastructure. FIFA stadium requirements mean the bid hinges on Tokyo's 2016 Olympics bid.

Mexico, 20
Did host the 1986 and 1970 World Cups, where Maradona and Brazil stole the show. The 2014 World Cup will be hosted in Brazil, so perhaps that is too close for two countries to host it from the Americas.

USA, 20
Could be the wildcard with Barack Obama and Hollywood to call on; also has top-class infrastructure, stadiums and transport links. South America hosting the 2014 tournament could be an issue.

Indonesia, 33
One of the outsiders; a population of 235 million is positive, football is growing in south-east Asia, but the nation is beset with political and economic instability.

2022: as above and...

South Korea
Co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, so has the experience.

Qatar
The Asian Football Confederation's Qatari chief, Mohammed bin Hammam, is a close ally of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and has just retained his seat on the Executive Committee after defeating Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa in a vote held at the 23rd AFC Congress on Friday 8 May in Kuala Lumpur.

Australia does have the capacity to host a World Cup in 2018/22; the competition from the other bids is strong; however, Australia can only compete with itself and its own potential and with its track record in hosting Olympic Games and other major international competitions, it is in with a very good chance even if the odds are against it.

Con Stamocostas, Goal.com