Australia’s World Cup bid appears set for a boost with FIFA expected to allow an Oceania representative to vote in Thursday’s poll in Zurich to decide the 2022 hosts.
It appeared that Australia had lost a certain vote when Oceania president Reynald Temarii copped a one-year ban earlier this month following a FIFA ethics inquiry.
However Football Federation Australia chairman Frank Lowy was confident that football’s global governing body would allow a replacement if Temarii didn’t appeal his punishment.
FIFA has said that Oceania’s acting president, David Chung, could only be allowed voting rights if Temarii didn’t appeal his penalty.
Temarii, who was cleared of corruption allegations, is understood to be prepared to stand aside if FIFA allow Chung to cast a vote for the Oceania confederation.
“I understand that Oceania is going to get a vote,” Lowy told The Associated Press in Zurich.
“I understand that FIFA will accept the person that is representing Oceania.”
Chung flew to Zurich hoping FIFA will allow him to cast Oceania’s vote.
However, the Oceania confederation said FIFA had yet to confirm Chung’s eligibility to vote and described his trip to Zurich as “precautionary”.
FIFA’s executive committee, which decides World Cup hosts, is normally made of 24 members.
However last month’s vote-buying sting in a British newspaper reduced that to 22 with Temarii and Nigerian voter Amos Adamu suspended.
If Papua New Guinea’s Chung is allowed to replace Temarii, it could prove crucial as Australia battle the USA, Qatar, South Korea and Japan for the quadrennial sporting extravaganza.
Australia is the only bidder that doesn’t have a representative on FIFA’s ruling panel.
Of the five candidates for the 2022 edition, only Australia and Qatar have not staged the event in the past 16 years with Qatar’s oppressive heat in June harming its chances.
FFA powerbrokers will spend the next couple of days in Switzerland trying to sway FIFA big wigs of the merits of Australia’s case.
FIFA’s ruling panel votes just over 24 hours after Australia makes its final pitch on Wednesday afternoon in a half hour presentation at FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich.
Temarii was banished from voting by FIFA for breaking loyalty and confidentiality rules by talking to reporters from The Sunday Times acting as vote-buying lobbyists.