Australia’s World Cup bid team is facing a nervous wait to see whether Oceania will be handed its vote in time for Thursday’s ballot (Friday AM AEDT) on the 2022 tournament.
The news comes amid a storm over corruption allegations following a BBC investigation.
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The confidence in the Australian camp of Reynald Temarii stepping aside to allow David Chung to represent the confederation has wavered in the past 24 hours.
The Oceania representative has been mandated to vote for Australia when FIFA’s executive committee decides the 2022 hosts in Zurich later this week.
Temarii, who was banned for a year for ethics violations a fortnight ago, is feeling a bit like the meat in the sandwich.
FIFA says that Chung can only replace Temarii if the Tahitian waives his right to appeal his suspension.
If Temarii fights to restore his reputation through the courts, he will be viewed as letting down the Oceania region and Australia’s chances of landing the quadrennial event.
On Monday, Australia’s bid leader Frank Lowy said he understood that Oceania would be allowed to vote but on Tuesday he said the matter was out of his side’s control.
“It is awkward but we are not in charge of the awkwardness .. and we are a participant,” he said.
“We are just at work doing our best to make sure that as many friends as we can have on the executive committee will be voting for us.”
Lowy and Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley said they were unaware of what was transpiring, with Chung having already arrived in Zurich.
Temarii is understood to be in New Zealand and expected to comment on the issue in some form on Wednesday.
With only 22, or 23 votes up for grabs if Chung is allowed to represent Oceania on the big day, Lowy said he hoped Australia’s bid did not come down to a single ballot.
“I sincerely hope it will not depend on one vote,” he said.
Lowy and Governor-General Quentin Bryce continued Australia’s attempts to woo FIFA powerbrokers on Tuesday by meeting with the sporting body’s president Sepp Blatter at FIFA headquarters.
The shopping centre magnate said they had reinforced to Blatter the nation’s credentials to stage the event just 48 hours before the vote.
“The Governor-General made the point and the Sports Minister (Mark Arbib) made the point and I chimed in a little bit here and there to say the whole country is behind the exercise,” he said.
“If we get it, we will make it as good a World Cup as has ever been before.”
Australia’s chances took a blow however, with a FIFA study ranking the bid as the least profitable.