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SBD Global/September 18, 2013/International Football

FFA Chair Lowy Demands Compensation From FIFA If 2022 World Cup Is Moved To Winter

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FFA Chair Frank Lowy is seeking A$43M in compensation from FIFA.
Football Federation Australia Chair Frank Lowy has demanded that FIFA pays back the A$43M ($40M) worth of Australian taxpayer dollars "wasted in the futile World Cup bid as questions over the probity and the desirability of staging the competition in Qatar continue to mount," according to Michael Lynch of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Australia, with significant government support and funding, "staged a lengthy but ultimately pointless campaign to win the right to stage the 2022 renewal of the world's biggest sporting event." Qatar won hosting rights in Dec. '10 despite the fact that temperatures in the Persian Gulf "regularly topped" the 40-degree Celsius mark in the summer (SMH, 9/17). In Sydney, James Madden reported Australia's A$43M bid "was predicated on the World Cup being held during the European summer."On Tuesday, Lowy revealed that "he had asked FIFA to make an in-principle decision that 'just and fair compensation should be paid to those nations that invested many millions, and national prestige, in bidding for a summer event if the tournament is shifted to Qatar's winter.'" FFA has also suggested that, should the tournament be pushed back to Qatar's winter, "a transparent process should be established to examine the scheduling implications for all leagues and a method developed for agreeing appropriate compensation for those affected." However, FFA spokesperson Dave Mason said that "Australia was not looking to offer to host the World Cup in 2022 should the Arab state be deemed to be unfit to hold it." He said, "That issue is not on the table. We're just making it public that we're seeking compensation from FIFA if the event is moved to Qatar's winter" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 9/18).

FIFA NOT BUYING IN: In London, Owen Gibson wrote FIFA has told FFA "to forget its attempt to reclaim" its costs for the bid. A FIFA spokesperson said that "there was no chance of Australia, and other losing bidders including the United States, being compensated if the tournament is moved to winter." Spokesperson: "As part of the bidding documents all bidders, including the FA Australia, accepted that the format and dates of the staging of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup, though initially expected to be in June/July, remains subject to the final decision of the FIFA Organizing Committee. There is no ground for any speculations" (GUARDIAN, 9/17).

WIDESPREAD IMPACT: REUTERS' Nick Mulvenney reported Lowy said that the FFA "had already contacted" FIFA President Sepp Blatter "to explain Australia's position." He said, "Australia invested heavily in the World Cup process and the entire nation was behind the bid. Since December 2010 Australia has been careful not to let its misgivings about the process be interpreted as sour grapes." Lowy also suggested that "no decision on the switch be made until an investigation into the 2022 bidding process by FIFA's ethics committee was completed." He added, "Better to let the independent investigative process run its natural course and then, with those issues settled, make a clear-eyed assessment about rescheduling and its consequences" (REUTERS, 9/17). In London, Tom Lutz reported FIFA's exec committee meets on Oct. 3 and the FFA "is conscious that a switch would affect leagues around the world, including the A-League," which currently runs from October to May. Lowy said, "If the World Cup were to be staged in the middle of our A-League season it would impact on our competition, not just for 2022, but for the seasons leading up to and beyond that date. Clubs, investors, broadcasters, players and fans would all be affected" (GUARDIAN, 9/17).

CHANGING THE RULES
: NEWS LIMITED NETWORK's Davutovic & Adno reported Australia’s hosting bid, fronted by Elle Macpherson and Governor-General Quentin Bryce, "was over after the first round of voting in 2010." Japan, South Korea and the U.S. "were knocked out in the subsequent rounds in favour of Qatar." Lowy said, "Australia, like other bidding nations, was required by FIFA’s own rules to pitch for a World Cup in the June and July window. Changing the dates is tantamount to changing the rules after the contest is over" (NEWS LIMITED NETWORK, 9/18). CRAVE ONLINE's Robert White reported "if the 2022 World Cup is indeed moved to the winter months, Australia’s compensation demand will likely trigger a number of other nations to also seek reimbursement, not only for failed bids, but also due to the financial ramifications of having professional football seasons disrupted for operation of the World Cup" (CRAVE ONLINE, 9/17). In London, Giuseppe Muro reported a shift "would have scheduling implications on lucrative European leagues that would affect the seasons either side of the 2021-22 campaign." The Premier League and the FA "would not comment," but the EPL has been resolute in its belief that "a winter World Cup is not practical for European football" (EVENING STANDARD, 9/17). Read Lowy's statement here.

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