Australia faces a colossus in its bid for 2022 World Cup
- Football news
- World Cup Favourites news
- World Cup Roar of the Crowd Competition news
- Football World Cup - South Africa 2010 news
If we assume the 2018 World Cup is destined for Europe, as FIFA have all but confirmed, then 2022 is shaping up as a battle between Australia and the USA – a David and Goliath battle, according to Goliath.
US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, representing Goliath, laid out a list of reasons why the USA should beat out their rivals to win the rights to host the World Cup in 2022, assuming, as we should, that Europe is earmarked for 2018.
Some of the reasons he gives are as follows:
- Economic might. $US14 trillion ($A15.46 trillion) GDP. “Given the world economic climate that is a difficult thing to do. Our funding comes from the private sector or donations. Because of the NFL and a number of universities, we have world class facilities without the need to build new ones,” he said.
- Population. “Lots of experience hosting events, a very large population, including a very large immigrant population with virtual guaranteed sell-outs for all 64 games,” he said.
- Based on confederation rotation, North America (CONCACAF), having last hosted the World Cup in 1994 in the USA, is due, particularly when its main rival, Asia, last hosted the World Cup in 2002 (Japan and South Korea).
- Ease. “The United States has more tickets to sell, is a good time zone, and there are a large number of commercial partners here,” he said.
- A united confederation. “We have the full support of (North and Central American Confederation) CONCACAF whether it comes to 2018 or 2022 by unanimous decision.” (Note: This is something Australia doesn’t even have from the Asian confederation).
All hard to argue against.
But that final point, regarding stadiums, is the most salient. The USA bid has 18 stadiums all named and accounted for that can fit a capacity of five million people.
Compared to the ongoing question marks surrounding available stadiums, the conflicts with rival codes, let alone the need for significant upgrading of infrastructure in Australia, the scope of our rivals’ stadium options dwarfs what Australia can currently offer.
Critically too, according to Gulati, America doesn’t need significant government support.
“We are not asking US government or state authorities to spend billions of dollars to build facilities,” he said.
Even if it did require significant government funding, you would sense it would be forthcoming considering the embarrassing failure of Chicago’s 2016 Summer Olympic Games bid leaves the World Cup bid as America’s sole chance for redemption in the coming decade.
In terms of financial backing and stadium suitability, therefore, the American bid, at present, is a much safer bet for FIFA than Australia’s.
An American World Cup also represents another chance for FIFA and the game to ‘crack’ the North American market.
The game is currently enjoying a growth spurt in the USA with a significant increase in ESPN’s World Cup coverage this year, the success of the national team at last year’s Confederations Cup, and the continued growth of the MLS, helped, somewhat, by ‘Beckham mania’.
If the 1994 World Cup was the chance for ‘soccer’ to reestablish itself in America through the rebirth of professionalism (through the creation of Major League Soccer), then 2022 could be the chance for the game to solidify its place in the American psyche.
Despite Australia’s bid propagating the notion that a World Cup on our shores, with its proximity to Asia would mean the tournament could tap into the region’s growing population and economy (a tenuous proposition considering the continued tensions between the FFA and AFC making them look like uncomfortable bedfellows), the fact remains that Asia doesn’t necessarily need to be ‘won over’ by the game.
America, with its economic might and cultural dominance over the western world, represents the last frontier for FIFA.
Whether this reasoning is a determining factor in the biding process remains to be seen.
What we do know is, at present, the American bid, with its mega-stadiums ready, is a colossus compared to Australia’s. If Australia wants to be in contention for 2022, it needs to look to America and accept that we have a lot of work to do just to be competitive.
Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.