Australia’s soccer boss has caused quite some headlines, as well as a few derisive comments and finally a clear rejection from FIFA for suggesting the soccer federation reimburse the countries involved in the 2022 World Cup bid that was eventually awarded to Qatar.
“There is no ground for any speculation,” FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter let it be known, after Football Federation Australia chief Frank Lowy had demanded that FIFA cough up the $43 million that Australia wasted on its futile bid for the 2022 World Cup in the event that FIFA were to reschedule the World Cup Finals in Qatar from the summer to the winter. Qatar is above 100 degrees daily during the summer months.
“Fair dinkum, Frank,” writes Michael Lynch in a commentary in the Sydney Morning Herald. “You might be on your way out from the top table of Australian soccer, but you seem determined to go with a bang. Perhaps we will all declare your epitaph to be that nothing became your soccer life like the leaving of it when you step down from the top job in a couple of years.”
At least, adds Lynch, Lowy’s demand made the headlines around the globe, “even if it may not amount to much.”
The reaction from FIFA was indeed unequivocal: ”As part of the bidding documents all bidders, including the FA Australia, accepted that the format and dates of the staging of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup, though initially expected to be in June/July, remains subject to the final decision of the FIFA Organising Committee,” said a spokeswoman.
There were absolutely no grounds for speculation that losing bidders could expect compensation, if FIFA should move the 2022 World Cup from summer to winter.
However, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Lynch expresses the hope that Lowy’s demand, should he maintain it, “will fan the flames of global protest over the increasingly ridiculous decision to award Qatar the tournament. If that occurs he has done the game a great service… Anything that continues to put pressure on FIFA to reconsider has to be applauded…”
Lynch explains “Lowy’s angst” with the consequences which would arise for the global soccer calendar, and in conclusion says: “The easiest thing would be for FIFA to admit it screwed up, declare the 2022 bid a no-contest, pay compensation to the countries (Qatar, United States, Australia, South Korea and Japan) which bid and re-open tenders. Pigs might fly. But if, by some miracle, that were to happen, the game would be the winner. But one thing, Australia, if you bid again, lose the inflatable kangaroo.”
Meanwhile, the prospect of the 2022 World Cup finals to be staged in winter took a step forward as the European Football Union’s 54 member associations at a meeting in Croatia agreed a summer event could not be played in Qatar.
“What has come out of this meeting is that the World Cup cannot be played in Qatar in the summer,” said Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce. “Everyone was certainly in agreement about that.”
According to Boyce, the debate was now regarding whether it would be played in January 2022 or November and December of that year. Boyce emphasized the UEFA associations do not want FIFA to rush that decision.
“There is still nine years to go and people feel FIFA should sit down with all the major stakeholders and come up with a solution that would cause the minimum disruption to football,” he told the BBC. “There is plenty of time to do that in my opinion, and hopefully football will
be the winner.”
FIFA’s Executive Committee is expected to agree in principle to move the World Cup to the winter at its meeting in Zurich, which begins Oct. 3.
This story appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl Heinz-Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Heinz-Huba.