Everyone knows that to host the FIFA World Cup is to host the biggest sporting event on earth. To bid for this honour alone costs millions of dollars, to win the hosting rights guarantees millions in return as well as massive tourism visitors as well as the chance to showcase your nation.
As with the Olympics it is all about putting a bid together and impressing those who have the power with their votes. It’s about schmoozing those with the crucial votes to ensure that they guarantee that their confederation backs your bid. No easy task, especially now ‘gifts’ are deemed unacceptable.
Obviously the economic benefits are massive and that is why so many governments get behind their nations bid. Add to that the kudos a government gets if its nation’s bid is successful, it is sure to guarantee another term in office. As England Prime Minister Harold Wilson stated when his government regained power in 1974 it was on the back of England’s failure to qualify for the World Cup finals. So sport may play as big a part in politics as politics plays in sport.
Australia is bidding for the hosting rights for 2018 and 2022, and everyone who matters is in South Africa for the draw for next year’s World Cup Finals and to impress and get close to those with voting influence. That is all well and good but should Australia be using innocent children as pawns in this process?
As the FFA put it in a press release ‘eight child emissaries as part of the 1GOAL program, as well as participate in FIFA’s official Bidding Nations Media Expo on Friday morning and attend the Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.’
There is no doubt that this is a wonderful opportunity for these eight children, but it does not seem right that they should be used in this way to try and become part of this political showcase of power.
FFA CEO Ben Buckley is quoted as saying “FIFA has set a level playing field by giving each of us guidelines to adhere to, but we believe Australia’s credentials and our emissaries representing the young people of Australia will help set us apart and position us strongly.”
This basically confirms that these children are being used to sway voters. I wonder if Mr Buckley would have allowed his offspring to be used in this way.
Maybe we are over reacting but is seems disingenuous to make these children part of the bid process. Sure they won a competition to be there, but it seems wrong to drag children into one of the most political organisations globally and to use them to ‘help promote Australia’s bid for the 2018-2022 FIFA World Cup throughout the week as ’emissaries.’’