Australia’s $46 million 2022 World Cup bid ‘never had a chance’, says former FIFA boss Sepp Blatter

These words were uttered by disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter late last year as he had lunch with former Football Federation Australia (FFA) executive Bonita Mersiades in Zurich.

He was talking of course about Australia’s bid for the 2022 Football World Cup. The revelations are contained in Ms Mersiades’ new book, Whatever It Takes: The Inside Story of the FIFA Way, which was launched to a packed room opposite the Houses of Parliament in London overnight.

It would have been nice if the Australian Government had known Blatter’s true thoughts in 2008 before it committed $46 million of taxpayers’ money to the bid.

At least some of that money is alleged to have been used to help buy votes during a corrupt bid process. FIFA investigator Michael Garcia found there was “significant evidence” that Australia tried to influence voting through improper payments.

The reason Australia was never going to win?

“You never had a chance because you were never going to be competitive for the broadcasters,” according to Mr Blatter, as quoted in Whatever It Takes.

“Not the time zone, not the money. It is obvious. We have to make enough money at the World Cup for the next four years and Australia wouldn’t be able to do it.”

Qatar, the eventual winner of the 2022 bid had a similar problem, but according to revelations in Ms Mersiades’ book, it found a way around it.

She says Al Jazeera offered FIFA a secret payment of US$100 million if Qatar won the right to host the World Cup.

According to Ms Mersiades, three consultants hired by the FFA cost the Australian taxpayer “around $15 million including disbursements”.

Peter Hargitay, Fedor Radmann and Andreas Abold had been hired variously for their knowledge of the FIFA system, their strong contacts with Mr Blatter and their successes with previous bid campaigns.

By any measure the millions they received did not turn out to be a good investment.

Firstly, the bid team secured just one lousy vote.

Secondly, if what Mr Blatter says is correct, they must have known a World Cup in Australia was never viable because it would not have made enough money for FIFA through broadcast rights.

Thirdly, they offended people during the bid process and harmed Australia’s reputation.