The writing is on the wall for Frank Lowy and his bidding bandidos. As the weeks tick down to FIFA’s big decision the men of red, white and blue are wheeling out all their money, political and media muscle to crush our Franky’s hopes. So what will happen if Australia doesn’t win 2022? As George Costanza would say, ‘prognosis negative’.
As of today, the USA are almost unbackable favourites to host the 2022 World Cup and barring a disaster will have the votes to knock off Australia come December 2. They have three distinct advantages over the Australian bid we cannot overcome – stadiums, crowds and timezone friendly coverage. While we may argue half the TV audience will be in Asia, more than two-thirds of the 24 FIFA votes at decision time will be from Europe and the Americas. I doubt they will listen.
Anyway, good luck to the yanks for their second go at it. Hopefully they can conjure up some better entertainment than Diana Ross kicking an inflatable football and also remember to screen games when they clash directly with the NBA finals or the middle of the baseball season.
Assuming the worst and 2022 is not headed our way then what next for the beleagured FFA and its ambitious chairman? 2026 looks out of the question as China is set to make a huge bid. The next realistic chance will be 20 years from now so we’ve got a bit of in-between time to fill.
While landing the Asian Cup in 2015 is a commendable effort from the FFA, albeit against no opposing bidders, it is hardly likely to maintain the enthusiasm of the 50 percenters out there (you know, those people who like watching Socceroos games and A-League on occasion but otherwise support AFL as it is a ‘superior’ game). As most of the media are 50 percenters as well, we can expect a noted drop-off in Australian football coverage should the decision on December 2 not go our way.
The FFA knows landing the World Cup would have been the cornerstone in its quest to compete with, and ultimately, topple the rival codes. Strip this away and all we are left with is cash-strapped A-League clubs and an ageing Socceroos squad with a no-name coach. The AFL and NRL will not hesitate to seize on this opportunity and then, and only then, we will know how good this current administration really is.
It is therefore imperative that the FFA start wheeling its emergency axe right now. We need showcase events planned for 2011 and the touted Socceroos vs England clash would be a great start. But to really save its bacon this time the FFA and A-League clubs will need to branch out to the grass-roots football community, the State and junior leagues across the land, as in the end only they can stop the USA from dropping the bomb on football in this country.