Thursday, August 31, 2006

And the 2010 World Cup talk turns back to Australia

About a month ago there was a lot of talk about South Africa falling behind in the 2010 World Cup plan. That died down for a while, but looky, looky, it is back.

The Sydney Morning Herald ran a front-page story (along the right side) talking about Sydney's preparations to host 2010. Here is why they point to Sydney as a possible backup:

Brazil, which is planning for 2014, does not have enough stadiums to meet a 2010 deadline, leaving Asia-Oceania in pole position should South Africa be stripped of hosting rights.

A joint Australia-New Zealand bid could thus become viable, with Sydney the likely frontrunner to host the final.

To beef up this talk they mention what Australia has in terms of stadiums. "Australia already has five stadiums [two in Melbourne and Sydney and one in Brisbane] that would meet World Cup standards. A new 60,000-seat stadium is planned for Perth."

So the question was thrown back to FIFA and they responded, ""We were asked the same thing in July, and the president made it clear we were not looking at alternatives."

So what about the president? The Herald speculates that once Sepp Blatter is re-elected next June, he might just change his mind about the whole situation. Blatter probably does not need Africa's votes to get re-elected, but if he opened up talk of taking the Cup away, he might also open the door to someone else getting the job.

All and all, the odds of the finals being moved are very low at the moment. FIFA wants to see this work in Africa for many reasons (money being the biggest), so they will be slow to pull out. Still, if Australia wants to put the money in to new facilities, it might not be wasted as it will help them in their 2014, 2018, 2022, ... bids.

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