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07 December 2010

Winning and losing

Australians are passionate about sport, there is no question about that, and among them Melbournians are probably the most vociferous supporters. That is until the team or individual stops winning! This is at least my observation which was again reinforced this weekend just gone. Interest in the national cricket side, up against England at the Adelaide Oval, hit an air pocket, and did not re-emerge until this afternoon, when the disinterest finally turned to anger and ridicule - reactions more familiar in South Africans.

This is by no means unique. During the beloved footy season, supporters of the losing team, which does not give a good account of itself, clear out of the stadium way before the end of the match - adding to the poor players' dejection, when, I would rather have thought constructive support might be a better option.

On the topic of cricket however it does appear as if the decade plus of dominance of the game is nearing its end. A rebuilding phase is, or will need to start in earnest, very soon. The choice of personnel to be part of this phase will need to be one of the early, difficult decisions. There will not be another Warny, Gilly, Pigeon or Haydos, but in time the new team will, I am sure, make its own mark, and deliver its own set of heroes and role models. They will need support during this phase, but cannot be expected to win every match and series. This is good for cricket, no?

The cricket was not the only loss inflicted this past week, the other was the 2022 World Cup hosting rights! But the reaction was predictable: yawn and ignore it! The Australian bid did cost us (the tax payer) almost $45m, but we have our footy and league (not to mention super rugby, tennis, F1 GP, etc.) and the bunch of cheating FIFA execs can go and play where ever they choose. "Cheating" because how can someone look you in the eye the night before, pledge you their support, and then not follow through the next day? - this is something very foreign to the straight up and down Aussie. The fact that this was not the action of one, but at least six executives just demonstrates that their values are very different to the ones lived by here. (I had to laugh at one report, hidden in small print somewhere, that the single vote that Australia got for their bid, is now being claimed by two FIFA execs - i.e. even after the fact, they don't want to admit they lied to you!)

Again, my question is whether it is time to give up? South Africa hosted a successful World Cup this year, but can anyone remember that South Africa were done in when bidding for the 2006 World Cup? None less than Nelson Mandela sat where Frank Lowy sat on Thursday last (just found out that I have common heritage with Frank - he too was born in Czechoslovakia, only thirty years before I was), and who got it? GERMANY! To their credit, South Africa did not give up; probably wiser to the workings of FIFA, they bid for the next one and got that. But then, there is England, poor England - the home of the most popular and successful football league, where all players want to play, and the best do. England bid alongside South Africa and Germany for 2006, now they tried again for 2018, only to be denied yet again. It does not make sense to me, is it because they already have the best and don't need 'development'? Why then did Germany, France, and Italy get hosting rights in the last 20 years? However, England won't give up, they'll be there bidding again!

So in conclusion: Don't give up; and don't give up on your team!

Personal note: For years my Australian Super Rugby team were the Queensland Reds. Why? Probably because they were so awful for so many years and needed the support! And besides Victoria did not have a team. All that is changing in 2011. Victoria is getting the Melbourne Rebels, they are the real underdogs, and I am switching my allegiance from Reds to Rebels but then the Reds are so hot now (2010), they will have great support!

Just for the record:
The voting for World Cup 2006:

Three days before the vote was due to take place, in Zurich on 6th July 2000, Brazil withdrew their application to host the 2006 World Cup Final (some say because Pelé is a friend of Beckenbauer's).
This left England, Germany, Morocco and South Africa with competing bids. [NOTE: Was this a trade of votes between Germany and Brazil, who were eventually awarded the 2014 rights??]

First round of voting: The 24 members of the FIFA Executive Committee all cast their votes to decide who would host 2006 World Cup Finals; Africa for once, or Europe yet again.
Germany pulled 10 votes in the first round, South Africa 6, England 5, and Morocco 3.
No-one abstained and Morocco were eliminated.

In the second round of voting, three of those who voted for England in the first round seemed to desert them in favour of South Africa; surely they wouldn't switch to Germany? South Africa tied Germany with eleven votes each. England only attracted two votes and were eliminated.

There was great speculation as to where the last two votes for England would go. If the final ballot tied at 12-12, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was to decide who would have the honour of hosting the 2006 World Cup Finals - he was rumoured to be in favour of South Africa [NOTE: This is a common thread, he was rumoured to favour Australia for 2022?? - bad omen - don't get Blatter
The greatest chance to justifiably bring a World Cup Finals to Africa, for the first time, was squandered.
One of the two remaining votes went to West Germany and the other - in the hands of Charles Dempsey, the New Zealand President of the Oceania Football Confederation - was not submitted. [NOTE: Oceania?? they did not vote for 2022 either, having been disqualified on the grounds of corruption: Bad omen number 2, don't rely on Oceania's support for your bid!] The abstention as good as a vote for West Germany. The media attention Charles Dempsey received, once his inaction became known to the world, forced him to resign from the FIFA Executive Committee and all other FIFA committees of which he was a member. Whatever his real reasons for abstaining and eventually resigning, the World Cup Finals in 2006 were to be hosted in Germany. 

Voting for the 2010 World Cup:
Africa was chosen as the host for the 2010 World Cup as part of a short-lived policy, abandoned in 2007, to rotate the event among football confederations. [NOTE: The 'rules' do change .... there is hope!] Five African nations placed bids to host the 2010 World Cup: Egypt, Morocco, South Africa and a joint bid from Libya and Tunisia. Following the decision of the FIFA Executive Committee not to allow co-hosted tournaments, Tunisia withdrew from the bidding process. The committee also decided not to consider Libya's solo bid as it no longer met all the stipulations laid down in the official List of Requirements.The winning bid was announced by FIFA president Sepp Blatter at a media conference on 15 May 2004 in Zürich; in the first round of voting South Africa received 14 votes, Morocco received 10 votes and Egypt no votes. South Africa were granted the right to host the 2010 World Cup.

Voting for the 2014 World Cup:
Due to the rotation policy, it was already known that the 2014 World Cup Finals would be returning to South America and, being CONMEBOL's only candidate put forward to host the tournament, the announcement that Brazil would host the 2014 World Cup Finals (on Tuesday, October 30th 2007) was merely a formality.

Voting for the 2018 World Cup:
First round: Russia 9; Spain/Portugal 7; Belgium/Netherlands 4; England 2 (eliminated).
Second round: Russia 13; Spain/Portugal 7; Belgium/Netherlands 2.
Russia gets to host WC2018.

Voting for the 2022 World Cup:
First round: Qatar 11; USA 3; South Korea 4; Japan 3; Australia 1 (eliminated).
Second round: Qatar 10; USA 5; South Korea 5; Japan 2 (eliminated).
Third round: Qatar 11; USA 6; South Korea 5; (eliminated).
Fourth round: Qatar 14; USA 8. Qatar get to host WC2022.

Confusing? We may need some other consultants!

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