The Australian Festival of Football – Audition for a real tilt at a corruption free World Cup?

Australians like to dream and we’ve had the Olympics twice so there’s that

Cristiano Ronaldo - Photo by DSanchez17 - CC-BY-NC-2.0

Cristiano Ronaldo – Photo by DSanchez17CC-BY-NC-2.0

Probably the best winter of Football in Australia, ever. Note to non-Antipodeans, the A-League (Australia’s premier league which includes a side from New Zealand (confused yet)) runs in summer in Australia (and NZ, as mentioned). Of course, the ‘best ever’ tag is subjective (not many blogs are objective, so that’s a given) but I can’t remember a time when a better collection of teams (including the vast majority of their star players) have played in Australia at the same time. In years gone by Manchester United might make the trip but only half their first team would play and they would be the only team visiting. In the last month 4 top flight teams visited Australia. Real Madrid brought Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema amongst a galaxy of stars. Man City brought Yaya Toure, David Silva, Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling (booed every time he touched the ball – Liverpool supporters are everywhere in Oz). AS Roma  brought Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi. Liverpool brought James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana. The crowds were enormous (Real Madrid vs Man City attracted 99,382) and the games were available free to air on TV in Australia which seemed to have no material affect on the crowds (aggregate crowd for 5 games was 324,262 for a per game average of 64,852). Probably the biggest difference was that the games were genuine pre-season games and not post-season tours. The stars didn’t play the whole game with squads heavily utilised but they played decent minutes.

Basically there was a lot more Football interest in Australia than would normally be the case and it wasn’t just ex-pats and travelling fans at the games either. Anyways it got me thinking. Last time Australia placed a bid for the Football World Cup we failed probably on 2 levels. The first level is that Football is not the top code in Australia and Australia probably just doesn’t have enough suitable grounds available during the Australian winter to accommodate a World Cup and secondly the whole bidding process was (and probably still is) steeped in corruption so I don’t think any country has a legitimate ‘level playing field’ opportunity to host.

This isn’t going to be another commentary on FIFA corruption but assuming the cleaners are put through FIFA in the next 5 years or so and assuming the bidding process becomes more transparent (wow, that is a big ‘if’ and a bit naïve to think that will ever happen) I am thinking the last month has enhanced Australia’s chances of hosting a Football World Cup. It is certainly moving in the right direction. So what, if anything, is different? Probably a good time to take the temperature pros and cons style of Australia’s chances as compared to the last time Australia placed a bid in 2009 for the 2018 (later withdrawn) and 2022 (unsuccessful) World Cups.

Pros

More experience hosting big Football events – The Asian Cup went gangbusters in Australia and the International Champions Cup went well too.

South Korea vs Uzbekistan - Photo by Nasya Bahfen - CC-By-ND-2.0

South Korea vs Uzbekistan in the Asian Cup – Photo by Nasya BahfenCC-BY-ND-2.0

Greater appetite for Football – This is a generalisation but there has never been a greater appetite for Football in this country. Multiple qualifications for the World Cup have greatly helped. So has Australian presence in the EPL and other major competitions for a number of years now. Football isn’t just the game you play until under 8s before moving on to other things now.

Already had a dry run for bidding – Plenty of lessons learned from the last time around.

Australia is not the U.S but is still a boutique market with untapped potential as far as Football is concerned – Surely FIFA must be running out of untapped markets to splurge their product. The U.S will have a better chance of hosting another World Cup before Australia ever gets one but there is still a business case for hosting a World Cup in Australia.

The A-League is doing better than previous incarnations of domestic Football – Top tier domestic Football in Australia has a generally poor history. Many, many different national competitions have started only to fold and many, many teams have risen only to return to the next tier down and that is without promotion/relegation in place. The A-League is the best effort yet and has been the most stable competition ever. It has been helped by a number of factors (realistic number of teams and moving to summer) but let’s just say at least Football is going in the right direction now.

Junior Football numbers are still amazingly strong in Australia – This has always been a constant.

Australian weather is the best in the World – I’ve got nothing to back that up. It’s just a fact.

Cons

Still a bad time to have a Football tournament given all of the stadiums are out of action – This will always be an issue. Juggling an event of the magnitude of the World Cup when competing with 3 other Football codes is tough beyond measure. The other Football codes are not interested in giving Football any assistance either so it isn’t going to get any easier. A lot of the stadiums are Government owned so getting the support of Government is probably the only way to get it done.

Football is not the number 1 sport in Australia – FIFA had to swallow its pride and enter the U.S market with the 1994 World Cup but Australia is a much smaller market. Realistically there are probably 732 countries that deserve a Football World Cup more than Australia on that basis alone.

Grounds are still of an insufficient number and quality to host a World Cup – The quality of the fields are just not good enough for a Football World Cup. We hear that every time a top class Football game is held in our country.

Verdict

More likely but still unlikely.

What is sweeter than Jelly Bread?

  • PNG Hunters. Still awesome. Now they’ve knocked over ladder leaders the Townsville Blackhawks twice. 

What isn’t 

  • Booing Adam Goodes. I don’t know if it is racially motivated. I don’t like it either way.

Bill James Award 

For the statistically superior NRL human being.

Greg Inglis – Tries – 3, Run Metres – 161m, Try Assists – 1, Tackle Breaks – 12, Tackles – 4, Offloads – 0, Line Breaks – 3, Line Break Assists – 2, Errors – 0, Penalties Conceded – 0 and Goannas – Not enough.

NRL Tips Round 21

Roosters vs Bulldogs – Roosters (There will be some tired bodies after this one. It will be a Bashfest. Roosters to narrowly prevail and enhance their Premiership credentials)

Tigers vs Storm – Storm (Tigers are in disarray but get Robbie Farah back. Martin Taupau is unavailable to balance that up. Storm are playing consistent football now and looking to add their name to the top tier of contenders. Not there yet)

Warriors vs Sharks – Warriors (Losing Shaun Johnson is a massive blow for the Warriors (and the Kiwis for that matter) but I’m wondering if it might have some Ewing Theory potential)

Cowboys vs Raiders – Cowboys (This will be a good gauge of the Cowboy’s current mindset. Let’s put it this way, Cows 48 Raiders 42 will not make Paul Green happy)

Sea Eagles vs Broncos – Broncos (Do or die for Manly now but if the Broncos are serious about being Premiers this is the kind of test they will need to pass and probably will)

Dragons vs Knights – Dragons (Dragons to continue Newcastle’s dire season and finally break that losing streak)

Rabbitohs vs Panthers – Rabbitohs (Panthers injuries have bothered them all season and last season for that matter. Due a break. Unfortunately won’t get one this week. Rabbitohs may be peaking at the right time)

Titans vs Eels – Titans (Battle for the spoon. Let’s see whose fragile psyche will crack first. The Titans have finally got their spine back and Greg Bird. If they can find some confidence they should provide some shocks in the next few weeks)

Last week

5/8

Season so far

92/144

Current Position

5,087 of 218,072

NRL Fantasy Round 21

Trades

Ben Hunt (Broncos) for Shaun Johnson (Warriors) – Injury replacement.

Mike Cooper (Dragons) for Martin Taupau (Tigers) – Brain explosion replacement.

Starting Team

Cameron Smith (Storm), Mike Cooper (Dragons), George Burgess (Rabbitohs), Shaun Fensom (Raiders), Elijah Taylor (Panthers), Corey Parker (Broncos), DCE (Sea Eagles), Ben Hunt (Broncos), Jack Bird (Sharks), Iosia Soliola (Raiders), Euan Aitken (Dragons), Semi Radradra (Eels) and Lachlan Coote (Cowboys)

Bench

Mitch Rein (Dragons), Ethan Lowe (Cowboys), Solomone Kata (Warriors) and Mitchell Aubusson (Roosters)

Balance of the squad

Richard Fa’aoso (Eels), Sam Lisone (Warriors), Sam Mataora (Knights), Dene Halatau (Tigers), Jackson Hastings (Roosters), Mitch Moses (Tigers), Edrick Lee (Raiders) and Delouise Hoeter (Tigers)

Last week

811

Season so far

15,843

Current Position

3,811 of 115,932

Stay Tuned

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode on Friday, 7 August 2015 titled ‘An Antipodean Preview of the EPL 2015/16’

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