Football’s world governing body FIFA released its evaluation reports on the nine bidders for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups on Wednesday and found a number of positives for Australia including having a technically sound bid, strong support and an opportunity to bring the tournament to the region for the first time.
But the bugbear appears to be how having Australia as a host impacts upon television revenues.
The report indicated it was certainly an issue.
“Should the FIFA World Cup be hosted in Australia, there is a risk of a reduction in TV income and, as a result, commercial revenue from Europe and the Americas,” the executive summary on Australia pointed out.
“The income from Asia/Oceania would need to be increased substantially to offset the likelihood of loss of revenue in
FIFA gets about 95 per cent of its income from the tournament.
The winning bidders for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments will be announced on December 2 in Zurich.
Football Federation Australia boss Ben Buckley played down that element in a statement, saying the massive projected growth in the Asian region would more than offset any reduced revenue from Europe.
“Asia’s middle class is growing rapidly and by 2022 there will be more middle class consumers in Asia than there will be in Europe and North America combined,” Buckley said.
“This will greatly increase the value of television rights in Asia, allowing FIFA the opportunity to more than recoup any potential reduction in income derived from Europe or the Americas.
“Australia offers the opportunity to hold the World Cup in prime time for a region that will be home to three quarters of the world’s population in 2022.
Other positives for Australia in the report were transport infrastructure, communications, security and a track record of hosting major events.
Negatives also included actual transport logistics given the size of Australia and as yet not meeting the required number of venue specific team hotels.
Australia’s main rivals for 2022 didn’t tick every box from FIFA either with summations that Qatar’s desert heat could put players’ health at risk, and that the US bid needed stronger guarantees of federal government support.
Of the 2018 bidders FIFA’s technical panel reported that favourites England, and Spain-Portugal, are “low-risk” options, while Russia faced challenges on providing transport infrastructure.
The two-year bidding process has been overshadowed by claims published by a British newspaper that officials and bidders have already been trading votes behind the scenes.
FIFA’s ethics committee will announce Thursday if two of the 24 voters – Reynald Temarii and Amos Adamu – should be barred for allegedly offering their support for sale.
The Qatari and Iberian bids face possible exclusion over allegations they broke FIFA rules by colluding to swap votes.