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The Rub-Down – Blinded by the heat

Australia's hopes of a World Cup were cruelly crushed by a FIFA executive commitee clearly under the influence. Shaun Whittaker looks at the primary reason behind the bid failure.

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03 December 2010

Congratulations to Qatar and Russia. They won. We didn’t. You may want to pour scorn on their bid teams and their clear involvement in vote-rigging and corrupt activities well before the decision was made but sadly, that’s the game these days and Australia was soundly beaten.

Don’t get me wrong, I am as equally disgusted and frustrated with the decision of Friday morning as any of you out there. But can we honestly say we were expecting a fair fight? While we all hoped the decision would be based on merit we also had the hope in the back of our minds that somehow Frank Lowy and his team of shady consultants would use their powerful ‘connections’ to get us over the line.

If we had won due to some slick political manoeuvring from the likes of Peter Hargitay or Fedor Radmann do you think we would be complaining? No, Australia (and the United States for that matter) were beaten by the shrewdest and toughest political tactician in football today, if not in the history of FIFA. Mohammed Bin Hammam. The president of the AFC has pulled off the biggest coup in modern football by dazzling his co-committee members with the wealth of Qatar and what that can provide the committee members.

Such was Bin Hammam’s confidence in his own power (and blatant lack of respect for the voting process), the Qatari TV networks and Al Jazeera were reporting Qatar’s victory a full half-hour before the announcement was made.

His influence was all too evident in the final voting numbers and at the end of the day was the primary force in securing Qatar’s victory. Logic and reason, were a distant second.

There is no doubt the executive committee has made a huge mistake. Qatar isn’t a fit place to host a BBQ let alone an entire World Cup. There will be massive issues in providing the infrastructure and tourism needs they have so boldly predicted they can deliver. Never mind the ongoing political tensions in the region and the raft of social injustices being suffered by its inhabitants.

Clearly FIFA’s own concerns about these fundamental issues were tossed in the furnace as soon as Bin Hammam got his groove on and starting waving cash in the air like he just don’t care.

Australia’s biggest downfall at the end of the day is that we didn’t have someone like Bin Hammam on the inside. No doubt Frank Lowy is gunning for that exact position as we speak but he may not be around long enough to see another Australian bid.

The devastating fact is that Australia is unlikely to be in a position to put in a realistic bid for the World Cup for another 20-30 years. Let’s hope this failure does not end the growing interest in football today because this decision had nothing to do with the sprit of football. I have a feeling it won’t. I also have a feeling that Bin Hammam might be receiving a Christmas card from one Mr Demetriou very soon

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