Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No so fast England...

Just when it looked like England would get the World Cup in 2018, Australia pops out to say hang on.

"John O'Neill, the chief executive of the Football Federation of Australia (FFA), told Australian Associated Press Oceania would present their proposal to FIFA at this weekend's Congress in Morocco."

Once Africa hosts the 2010 finals, Oceania will be the only conference not to host a tournament. As O'Neil points out, "In 2006 the Cup is in Europe, in 2010 it's Africa, 2014 will be South America, and in 2018 it's our turn."

Australia wants to host the event with a few games played in New Zealand.

I think this will be a very difficult sale. I'm not saying they could not do it, but if it were held in Australia, there would be some big (read European) obstacles to overcome. I'm sure Oceania would want to have more then the current .5 of a team representing the conference. Australia would be in as host (I'm guessing that New Zealand would not be seen as co-host) and they would probably get one more direct team in and still have their playoff against South America. So if they get two more teams, who looses.

The first two conferences that come to mind are Asia or CONCACAF, but they might be able to team together and stop such things from happening. Africa already gets so few and it's hard to take one away from South America, so hello Europe. What do you think they'll have to say about that?

Also, if they were to get the cup, that would be three finals in a row not held on European soil. I'm sure there will be arguments about the difficulty of travel for so many fans, but I think there will be a hidden under current. No European team has ever won the World Cup on non-European soil. This could change by the time voting happens in 2012, but if it does not, that will be another reason to oppose such an idea.

The final problem is the time difference. Just like in 2002, having the games in a place like Australia means everyone else will be watching them around lunch time (Europe & Africa) or in the middle of the night (North & South America). Will FIFA be willing to risk money from TV rights again?

I think this is something to watch, but I think we have about, um, 5 years before it gets interesting.



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