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Aussies must unite behind '18 & '22 Cup bids

Article Published: Thursday 10 December 2009

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Australia on Thursday urged rival sports to unite behind its bid for the 2018 and 2022 football World Cups after a damaging spell of in-fighting.

Sports Minister Kate Ellis pledged to work with the powerful Australian Rules and rugby league bodies after both raised concerns about hosting the World Cup concurrently with their regular seasons.

"We've said all along that winning a World Cup for Australia is a massive task, is a big challenge, but ... we are committed to getting right behind our football federation and delivering," she said.

"And I have to say that if we are successful in winning the rights to host a World Cup in Australia, it will be of benefit not just to the world game but to the sporting community and to the Australian community more broadly."

The Australian Football League (AFL) has refused to make available Melbourne's second largest stadium, while the National Rugby League said it would expect financial compensation for any losses.

AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said the 100,000-seat Melbourne Cricket Ground would be available, but ruled out vacating the 56,000-seat Etihad Stadium.

The AFL is in the ninth year of a 25-year deal with Etihad Stadium, the only other venue in Melbourne alongside the MCG that FIFA considers big enough for World Cup matches.

"In order for our season to be able to work and accommodate our stakeholders, we need to start planning and to have a season that runs concurrently with the World Cup," Demetriou told a Sydney radio station.

"We would make the MCG available for 10 weeks, which is ours under our agreement, but we need Etihad Stadium to be able to conduct our season. If we haven't got Etihad Stadium and the MCG, we can't run a season."

NRL chief David Gallop also said a football World Cup would pose major problems for existing codes.

"Some of the proposals are not going to be palatable to us and would be very costly to us," Gallop said.

"We're not trying to stop the World Cup bid but we are certainly concerned about the impact that it will have on our season, our fans and the financial position of our clubs."

But Ellis stressed the Australian government was completely behind Football Federation Australia's bid.

"I think that we will work with the AFL, we will work with the NRL, we will work with the sporting community to make sure that when this bid is delivered, it's delivered in partnership with them," she said.


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