Buckley makes final pitch for 2022

In front of an audience packed full of influential figures in Zurich, Buckley produced a composed performance in selling the nation’s bid before the host announcement on December 2.


“Football has been growing rapidly in Australia and hosting the World Cup in 2022 will be like putting a turbo charger on the growth of the game and leaving a very significant footprint for the game,” he said at the International Football Arena conference.

“We have a very competitive landscape, we know we compete with other codes and this is a great opportunity for football to dominate the landscape over the next 12 years.”

There is cautious optimism within the FFA camp.

Australia and the USA are regarded as the favourites ahead of Qatar and 2002 co-hosts Japan and South Korea to put on the world’s biggest sporting event in 12 years’ time.

There is little doubt hosting the World Cup would be a massive boost for the sport in Australia and Buckley’s sentiments are only going to further raise fears for the other football codes.

In a slick half-hour presentation that included a short question and answer session, Buckley fended off queries regarding the current bidding scandal that has engulfed FIFA.

Buckley went to great lengths to express that Australia would be a “safe” choice with the logistical problems that troubled South Africa in the build-up to this year’s World Cup still fresh in the mind.

He promised a “no worries” World Cup and said that it ticked boxes for both the Asian and Pacific regions.

Buckley said Asia was projected to boast 70 per cent of the world’s population by 2022.

“We believe it would be a great opportunity for FIFA to complete a bold and ambitious agenda by having hosted the World Cup on all continents,” he said.

But for all the winning over of industry movers and shakers, the most important work for the Australian team this week will be done behind closed doors.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy has flown into the Swiss city as Australia and other bidding nations try to lure the 22 active members of the executive committee in the coming days.

The big fish of world football’s governing body are all in town as FIFA tries to sort out the cash-for-votes allegations against suspended committee members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii.

They also have to deal with a separate investigation into alleged collusion between the Qatar and Spain-Portugal bids.

Temarii was viewed as being one vote Australia could count on in the final voting and if he is removed that must be viewed as a slight setback.

Buckley said his team would wait to see how FIFA reacts to the scandals before moving swiftly if the goal posts are changed. “Our focus is still on promoting the credentials of Australia,” he said.

“There is a process in place to deal with it, we have faith in the process and we will react accordingly.”