World Cup 2018 - Could Australia's bid fail due to rugby?
For those that don't know, rugby is the king of sports in Australia and the owners (or at least main tenants) of just about every large stadium in the country. These are the same stadiums the Australian soccer federation will need to use if they are awarded the cup.
The problem is, the rugby season runs from March to the last weekend in September. Since the World Cup is played mostly in June, there is a conflict. FIFA is very demanding of pitch surfaces for World Cups (in Germany they barely let teams practice on the pitches ahead of the matches), so I really could not see them allowing other games played in the selected stadiums.
That means the ruby league would need to take a five-week break in the middle of their season to accommodate World Cup needs. The have changed their schedule in the past (most recently starting early in 2000 due to the Olympics), but as far as I can tell, they have never suspended their season (I am far from an expert on the AFL so I might be wrong).
The other option would be to shift the rugby games to different stadiums. However this too could be complicated as the ruby teams would surely lose money from playing in smaller stadiums and FIFA might not like the idea of having competition during their premier event.
So in the end, Australia's 2018 bid might come down to their rugby league. Will they be interested in completely changing their structure in order to help a sport that very well could become a challenger to their dominance of the sporting landscape? Or will they do like NFL owners in America and decide that the large amount of money they can get from the stadium more then makes up for the limited spike in soccer interest?