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Oz World Cup bid hit by stadium row

Article Published: Friday 28 May 2010

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The chairman of Football Federation Australia has admitted that squabbling among football codes over stadium usage may have hurt Australia's bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.

A football website produced a critical assessment of Australia's bid, saying it had plummeted to seventh-best due to recent fights over stadiums involving the Australian Football League, the peak body of Australian Rules football.

FFA chairman Frank Lowy said Friday that the website report was "a lot of nonsense" but again criticized the AFL for its tough approach to stadium availability.

Australia, the United States, England, Russia, and joint bids from Belgium-Netherlands and Spain-Portugal are bidding for either 2018 or 2022. Japan, South Korea and Qatar are bidding only for 2022.

FIFA's executive committee will decide in December on the hosts for both tournaments.

"There are 24 people who are going to make that decision and the people who write about it have no idea what they are talking about," Lowy said.

"Did it hurt us the squabbles about the stadia? Yes. Did it hurt us very badly? Not that badly.

"But I would have preferred not to have it because it should have and could have been sorted out totally differently. The squabble wasn't necessary."

The AFL's decision to put its 54,000-seat stadium in Melbourne off limits left Victoria state with just two venues - the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Skilled Stadium in Geelong, a satellite city west of Melbourne.

That was compared with a combined five stadia in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Lowy reiterated his disappointment at the approach taken by the AFL.

"I don't think they did the right thing," he said. "But we are all here now." AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou said his code had been a "fantastic supporter" of the World Cup bid.

"The AFL was fully cooperative during the whole World Cup bid process," Demetriou said after being told of Lowy's comments.

"We have publicly stated we are supportive of the bid, we have given up five venues, which is the most of any code."


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