EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Sports: Russia and Qatar To Host The World Cup …

  • December 3rd, 2010
  • Posted by 7thmin

qatar-landscape.jpgOPINION / SPORTS: Russia is to host the Football World Cup in 2018 and Qatar (picture) in 2022.

WAKE-UP CALL FOR MR PUTIN

The Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin (picture), was reported to be packing a bag and rushing for the airport to go and down a few vodkas in Zurich, having boycotted the late lobbying.

putin-ec.jpgHe’d stayed away over claims coming to the surface that his country’s bid was being snookered by a deal between Spain and Portugal (jointly campaigning for 2018) and Qatar.

Also galling for the Russian Federation was a set of Wikileaks disclosures this week, telling about advice to the American government that the mafia had got into close collusion with Mr Putin’s government – a claim described by Moscow as a “wrong view of Russian reality”.

Other bidders among the European  group that nominated for 2018 were England, Spain and Portugal, and Belgium and the Netherlands.

FIFA’S QATAR PROJECT

The world Football federation, FIFA, is pushing on with an experiment with the Gulf state of Qatar, which has already been given the finals of the Asian Cup, through the Asian Football Confederation, for next year.

The desert emirate has a resident population of just under 1.7-million people, but, here’s the key to it, billions of petro-dollars – estimated per capita GDP of $US 83840, (A$85855, xe.com, 3.12.10).

qatar-air.jpgThat positive circumstance has allowed the country to punch above its weight in different ways.

  • Its capital, Doha, hosted the start of the current round of world trade talks; the talks have been faltering but the brand-name must be useful.
  • Some profile has been achieved by a publicity blitz of the last few years promoting Qatar’s new “five star” airline.
  • Doha is home also to Al Jazeera, the satellite news service offering a Middle East perspective on world news in contemporary formats.
  • Now the World Cup is set to bring in over 700-million television viewers.

Given the notoriously sunny climate, Summer temperatures running above 40-degrees; teams will be invited to train in air-conditioned quarters, spectators will travel on a new metro system, and the games themselves will be played in 22 new, demountable, air-conditioned stadiums – which later can be sent to developing countries.

(Idea: If they swapped, Qatar could do this in 2018, and send the stadiums for 2022 in Russia, where some 13 new buildings are to be constructed).

The Qatar national football team has yet to get as far as quarter-finals in a World Cup, but there is time to get in top-grade players, and the country’s bid offered to bridge religious differences, helping with the inclusion of large, and strongly Football orientated populations in the Middle East.

Its representatives took their victory graciously, acknowledging that FIFA had placed trust in them, reassuring them that such trust would be honoured, and exhorting Football fans in a world television audience to deliver their support: “Thank you for believing; for giving a chance to change; we will not let you down … Let us make history together!”

The unsuccessful 2022 bidders were Australia, Japan and South Korea, and the United States.

FIFA CORRIDORS

The Qatar bid team plainly coped well in the FIFA corridors of power, bumping along with the 22 middle-aged men in the executive group who decided the outcome.

Their identities are disclosed, to the discomfort of some, given a rash of claims of bribery and corruption against certain members, and others currently stood down.

The actual ballot was secret, full details of the figures not to be disclosed.

(Idea: The search for such information might be a job for young Julian Assange, the Australian chap at the head of Wikileaks, conduit organisation for the leaking of thousands of United States diplomatic cables, evidently through the US government’s own Defence organisation. Mr Assange, very unpopular with powerful political establishments at this time is concealing his current whereabouts, and expecting flak from many quarters. His lawyer has complained about the issue of an Interpol watch against him over two alleged sexual assaults in Sweden, stating that as yet he’s just wanted for questioning. Mischievous – and informative-  as his leaking activities may be, the man is a live wire and definitely an irritant; by the time they have finished with him, will we see this Assange held responsible for the machinations of the Russian mafia, pollution of the North Sea, defoliation of the Amazon?).

AUSSIES GRUMBLING AND TRYING NOT TO GRUMBLE

In Zurich this morning, early leaks from the voting had it that Australia got just one vote, to be eliminated in the first round.

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, quickly extended congratulations to Qatar, observing that for Australia’s part the whole country was disappointed.

(The Americans were disappointed also, saying all technical standards had been met but there was too much politics involved; President Barack Obama remarking the Qatar outcome was “wrong”).

Some 300 keen followers of Football assembled at the Sydney Opera House, in the early-morning hours, to hear the verdicts; many talking about another bid, another time; some grumbling.

“I’m gutted”, said one fan.

“Good luck to Qatar”, said another. “We are good sports after all”.

The early-hour was indicative of the Australian bid, which claimed that the advancing strength of Asia, both on the football fields and economically, would nullify the time-zones argument against it.

The Australians put up an argument built around the beckoning landscape, safety and security, a sports-mad, multicultural host population, experience in running major events, and sound economics.

A study done for FIFA, down-playing the relative profitability of a contest in Australia, was countered by the Australian Football Federation President, Frank Lowy, a highly-successful entrepreneur, telling the 22 gentlemen: “I know a good business proposition when I see one”.

The Socceroos have been to the World Cup three times, playing quarter-finals in 2006; the Matildas hold the Asian Cup and have qualified for their World Cup next year.

Women were prominent in the Australian bid; the Governor General, Quentin Bryce, was on the platform with the “supermodel” Elle MacPherson; players in the presentation also included Prime Minister Gillard and the 2000 Gold Medalist Cathy Freeman.

Part of the problem is that soccer Football still rates as only the fourth football code in Australia though it has been making great strides, and early media responses this time were cool.

The Australian newspaper led:

“Australia missed out on hosting the World Cup today when FIFA officials took the contentious and high-risk option of giving the 2022 event to Qatar.

“The FIFA vote in Zurich risked a backlash from soccer authorities around the world by overlooking the many shortcomings of Qatar’s bid and snubbing Australia, the United States, Japan and South Korea.

“The cash-rich but tiny Gulf state of Qatar has few football fans or stadiums and has a climate that will be so hot during the World Cup that the organisers admit they will need to build massive air-conditioning systems for entire stadiums and fan zones to avoid serious heath risks.

“The Qatar bid was also embroiled in allegations of collusion after reports that it had entered an illicit vote-swapping pact with the Spanish-Portuguese bid, which this morning was beaten by Russia for the right to host the 2018 World Cup.”

The Sydney Morning Herald, and AAP said:  “Distraught football fans at Sydney’s Circular Quay reacted with dismay after it was revealed Australia had failed in its bid …”

Another SMH report: “FFA Member Heartbroken”.

Frank Lowy said in Zurich: “I really did not expect that we would lose … because we did everything right. It was just not enough this time …The sun is coming up. Australia is waiting for us… This battle has been lost. There are many more battles to come.”

The Sports Minister, Mark Habib, said Qatar’s efforts had been highly professional.

“It was very, very tough competition”, he said.

The Socceroos captain, Lucas Neill, said the national team would be going to Qatar with a will to win the Asian Cup in a few months’ time.

“We only know one way and that’s to come back and fight”, he said.

Footnote: Fame and success can bring problems to manage for players in the big-time in any kind of business. The timing has been unfortunate, with a new campaign just started in Australia over abuse of live sheep exported to states in the Gulf. It stands to be helped-along with recognition generated by the publicity emanating from Zurich. Livestock authorities who oversee Australia’s trade in live animals for slaughter, the world’s largest, insist that the handling of the animals is well controlled and anomalies followed-up. A disputed Wikipedia report lists Qatar among customers, though the current campaign is focused on backyard killings of animals  -throats cut without pre-stunning-  for a festival in Kuwait. See video from the animal protection organisation, Animals Australia,
http://www.liveexport-indefensible.com/, (3.12.10). (See back-up from the much-respected RSPCA, http:// www.rspca.org.au/news/the-real-value-of-live-sheep-exports.html, (3.12.10).

Reference

Animals Australia – the voice for animals, Melbourne, “Live Annual Export: Indefensible”. http://www.liveexport-indefensible.com/, (3.12.10).

Royal Society for the Protection of Animals Inc. (RSPCA), Canberra, “The real value of live sheep exports”.
http://www.rspca.org.au/news/the-real-value-of-live-sheep-exports.html, (3.12.10).

Wikipedia, SF, Live Export. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_export, (3.12.10).

Peter Wilson and Ray Gatt, “Australia loses out to Qatar”,
The Australian, Sydney, (3.12.10).
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/sport/australia-loses-out-to-qatar/story-fn76vhk4-1225964872255, (3.12.10).

The Sydney Morning Herald, AAP, “Aussie fans upset by lost World Cup bid”, 3.12.10.
http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-sport/aussie-fans-upset-by-lost-world-cup-bid-20101203-18iel.html, (3.12.10).

SMH, “FFA Member Heartbroken”, (3.12.10).
http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-sport/ffa-board-member-heartbroken-20101203-18ig9.html, (3.12.10).

 Pictures

Qatar – namnewsnetwork.org, blog.flightstory.net

Leave a Reply